Undeniable need for EU money to help foodbanks says Commissioner on visit to Bedford

European Commisioner Laszlo Andor, right, with Richard Howitt and a volunteer at Bedford Foodbank.
European Commisioner Laszlo Andor, right, with Richard Howitt and a volunteer at Bedford Foodbank.

The European Commissioner responsible for food aid visited Bedford Foodbank declaring there is an ‘undeniable need’ for the British Government to access EU money to assist foodbanks.

European Commisioner Laszlo Andor made the comments at the town’s Foodbank on his trip last Friday after he was invited as a guest by MEP Richard Howitt.

At a recent meeting between officials of the European Commission and the British Government earlier this week, civil servants had said the Government is now considering its original decision not to accept EU cash earmarked for foodbanks and allowing the money to be claimed for foodbanks before the September deadline for applications is made.

Mr Andor, European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs said: “Having visited Bedford Foodbank and seen the demand, it is undeniable that there is a need to be met and I would be happy if the European Union could help. I have read the reports that the British Government may change its mind but it is up to them to provide official confirmation.”

Sarah Broughton, Bedford Foodbank project manager, said: “We think it would be great for Bedford Foodbank to receive a slice of this money - it would make such a difference to our day-to-day operations in helping feed people in Bedford.”

Labour MEP Mr Howitt, who helped negotiate the £3m which has been allocated to Britain as part of the EU fund at the request of the UK charity responsible - the Trussell Trust - said: “I hope the message 5,000 people here in Bedford alone are dependent on the foodbank, put together with the huge generosity from the churches and across this and communities across the nation, will send a message loud and clear for the Government to end its ideological objection to claiming the EU foodbank cash.”

The Bishop of Bedford, the Rt Rev Richard Atkinson, who was one of 500 church leaders who co-signed a letter to the Government appealing for the crisis of food poverty to be tackled, who was also in attendance during the visit said: “Europe is a family in which we pay money in and take money out. I welcome the fact Europe is addressing the social justice agenda and believe Britain should engage with it. I have no problem with that.”

For more details on Bedford Foodbank visit www.bedford.foodbank.org.uk or follow them on twitter @bedfordfoodbank