Jeremy Corbyn praises scheme using food which had been destined for landfill
The food supply chain in the UK is "morally mad" with just 4% of surplus food saved from needless waste, volunteers told Jeremy Corbyn on his tour of marginal constituencies.
The Labour leader met volunteers from a number of clubs and co-operatives in Morecambe, Lancashire, who highlighted their efforts to save in-date and good-to-eat food which was destined for landfill because of over-production or labelling errors.
Robyn Thomas, manager of Stanley's Youth and Community Centre, told him they had dealt with a young child who had eaten from a bin at school and another who was rocking back and forth at the centre with hunger.
Members of co-operative Sustainability Morecambe and food clubs from the Stanley Road centre and Lancaster Labour Community Club said they all worked with FareShare which redistributes food destined for waste to charities and community groups across the UK, although some 1.9m tonnes of food is estimated by FareShare to be wasted every year.
Linda Smalley, co-founder of Sustainability Morecambe, said: "It's not just about food poverty, it's about social isolation, it's about people feeling they are part of a community and they can contribute to it.
"What we would like to see is a whole network of these food clubs because they are brilliant
"The big thing about it is that it de-stigmatises because what we say is this is about keeping food out of landfill.
"It's not really about food poverty, the addressing of food poverty is a by-product.
"We feel that people have enough shame and stigma when they have not got enough money
"Four per cent of food is picked up that would be wasted and go to landfill. It's not sustainable on any level. Morally it's mad."
Examining a tin of beans which had a 2018 best before date, Mr Corbyn asked: "How do the the supermarkets justify why they throw stuff away? I can see no reason whatosever with this."
Adrian Lewis, of Lancaster Labour Community Club, told him: "A lot is purely the administration and they see it as a cost effective way of just getting rid of instead of having to redistribute it back to the massive redistribution centre. A lot of waste."
Stanley's volunteer Gary Lloyd said a lot of children who came to the club's youth sessions were "very deprived".
He said: "We have had a situation where they have not had a hot meal."
Ms Thomas told Mr Corbyn: "There was actually a young person last year who took food out of a bin at school and we have had children rocking in here with hunger.
Mr Lewis added: "There is just no need for it when there is so much food."
The Labour leader told those present: "The number of children that go to school hungry and teachers end up paying food for themselves and well done the teachers, they shouldn't have to do it, which is why I'm very determined that we give at least a free school meal to every primary school child.
"Give them all a lunch together because there is something good about eating together.
"Not stigmatising, not a queue to see who is getting free meals, and dinner tickets and all that sort of stuff."
Mr Corbyn was also shown the centre's Melting Pot upstairs studio space which caters for those in west Morecambe with a musical leaning and provided the opportunity for jam sessions, building confidence and learning new tricks and confidence ahead of possibly performing on its community stage at events and festivals.
Mr Corbyn was shown a wall of inspirational quotes from stars such as John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix and Amy Winehouse but one quote from The Doors frontman Jim Morrison caught his eye, "When the music's over turn out the light".
He said: "I like the Jim Morrison one. I'm a great admirer. An incredible musician."
The Labour leader will continue his nationwide tour of Tory marginal constituencies with a visit to Blackpool on Friday and later a rally on Southport beach.