John Harris

Journalist & Author

There’s another pandemic stalking Britain: hunger | John Harris

As Boris Johnson instructs us to go out and spend, swathes of the population can barely afford to eat

In over three months of reporting about the Covid-19 outbreak and the social crisis it has sparked, one subject has come up in my conversations far more than most: food. Or rather, an increasing number of people’s familiarity with the experience and prospect of hunger.

As the recession that will surely explode by the autumn takes shape, food-bank providers report surges in demand of, in some places, around 300%. When the footballer Marcus Rashford took on and beat the government over the provision of free school meals over the summer holidays, he was shining a light on the same soaring want. At the heart of this is something a lot of people understood well before the outbreak: that, from our immigration rules to the punitive benefits system, people have been deprived of the most basic security by deliberate policy – something highlighted when the people in charge of food projects describe what they and those they help are now facing.

Related: The British government is about to sleepwalk into an unemployment crisis | Larry Elliott

Related: The UK arts sector was thriving before coronavirus. It’s folly not to save it | Polly Toynbee

John Harris is a Guardian columnist

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