Our response to the Asda, Fareshare & Trussell Trust Announcement
IFAN recognises the importance of effective emergency food aid projects as a way of meeting the immediate need for food of hundreds of thousands of people across the UK, in a context where food insecurity continues to rise but the Government still fails to act.
But IFAN is committed to finding ways to reduce reliance on food banks; to addressing the problems (for example, of low pay) that contribute to food insecurity; and to an approach that connects food security to the creation of a more sustainable food system. Experience from the US and Canada has shown that funding from the corporate food industry tends only to further institutionalise charitable food aid, does little to address food insecurity, and works to obscure inefficiencies and injustices in food production and food distribution systems.
IFAN is therefore deeply disappointed with the recent announcement of FareShare and the Trussell Trust’s £20 million partnership with the British supermarket ASDA, at a time when colleagues across the sector are seeking ways to move the UK away from its reliance on charitable food aid and address the wider problems of food insecurity.
The choice to partner with ASDA is especially disappointing given the company’s own record on low pay.
In 2015 a report by Citizens UK found ASDA to be employing 120,000 low paid workers, requiring £221,337,000 in public subsidies (for example, in the form of in-work benefits) to enable these workers to afford a basic standard of living; £70 million more than ASDA contributed in tax to the Treasury.
Though in March 2017 ASDA claim to have offered all staff an increase in minimum pay to £8.50 an hour, for those agreeing to new ‘flexible working’ arrangements, in February 2018 Glassdoor.co.uk are still reporting hourly rates of pay for Customer Assistants and Grocery Colleagues at ASDA of £7.39/hour and £7.38/hour; both of which remain below the National Minimum Wage (£7.83/hour) and a long way below the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s recommended minimum Voluntary Living Wage.
ASDA is owned by the US corporate giant Walmart, who have donated more than $100 million to the Feeding America campaign since 2005, but whose own workers sometimes have to rely on food banks to survive.
For further information about the wider fight against food insecurity in the UK see:
For further information on the public subsidy of low pay employers, including ASDA, in the UK see:
For further information on the problems relating to the corporate funding of food aid in the US:
On the dangers of focusing on food waste as a way to solve food poverty see: http://foodresearch.org.uk/publications/is-it-appropriate-to-use-surplus-food-to-feed-people-in-hunger/
And on Walmart and food banks: