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Food Charity: Undermining Human Rights? Thursday 11 June, 12pm-2pm

Register for the event >> Brussels Office, Avenue d'Auderghem 22-28, 22-28 Oudergemselaan, B-1040 Brussels

With the current economic crisis and austerity measures across Europe, many face hardship from cuts in pay and social welfare, along with rising prices. There has been little governmental attention to how households can eat decently and sufficiently; the consequences of not doing so for social wellbeing and nutritional health can be severe, but are hidden and individually embodied rather than monitored and addressed by society. Public policy has been slow to respond, leaving civil society to step in with charitable food and support.

In the United Kingdom we have seen an explosion of foodbanks and other forms of charitable food aid. There is widespread consensus that these foodbanks are becoming a permanent feature of the British landscape. This phenomenon is replicated in different forms in a number of other countries across Europe. Foodbanks therefore appear to be a lasting legacy of the financial crisis. But what are the broader social implications of the ‘institutionalisation’ of charitable food aid?

Both speakers recognise people's generosity in giving time, skills, food and sometimes money to help others eat. But they will elaborate on the dangers that food charity poses for the long term protection of human rights in the United Kingdom and Europe. They will also talk about the steps that are needed to transform public policy and civil society action so that human rights are better promoted in the future.


Prof. Liz Dowler is a leading expert on the social and policy dimensions of food and human nutrition. She has written extensively on charitable food aid and its implications for accountability, advocacy and the social contract. She will discuss the dangers of using one food problem – production of surplus or ‘waste’ – to address another – that people cannot afford to buy enough food, because of inadequate or uncertain pay and/or social security benefits.

Dr. James Harrison is a leading expert on human rights and austerity. He has written extensively on the impact of public spending cuts and welfare reform on human rights and equality. He will explore why foodbanks have become such an integral part of the response to the economic crisis, and what the implications of this response are for those who are using emergency food aid.

Further information on the research being carried out, please see here.

The event will be taking place at: Greater Birmingham and West Midlands Brussels Office, Avenue d'Auderghem 22-28, 22-28 Oudergemselaan, B-1040 Brussels,

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