THE woman hoping to become one of Hampshire’s newest MPs is fasting to highlight the rising use of foodbanks.
Rowenna Davis, who hopes to succeed John Denham as Labour MP for Southampton Itchen, is joining residents and volunteers for a day-long fast today.
It is part of a national campaign called End Hunger Now, which aims to highlight the rise in use of foodbanks in the country.
Ms Davis believes the rising use of foodbanks in Southampton is part of a cost of living crisis which has developed since the Coalition Government took power in 2010.
But the man who will compete with her to become Itchen MP, Conservative city councillor Royston Smith, insists that people using foodbanks increased under the previous Labour Government.
Last year the Daily Echo highlighted an increase in people having hand-outs from foodbanks in Southampton, as the City Mission reported an increase of more than 1,000 people being fed by the organisation in the first five months of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012.
This year, the foodbank has reported another big increase in the first three months of the year – rising from 1,761 people last year to 2,629 this year.
Ms Davis, who volunteers at the Bitterne Park Triangle foodbank, will go a day without food and drinking only water alongside 20 other volunteers and residents.
She added: “It’s shocking that a city like ours should have so many people who can’t feed themselves and their families. People shouldn’t be going hungry in 21st century Britain.
“Our fast isn’t just about people who use foodbanks either – it’s about all of those who are noticing their food bills go up and struggling to make ends meet.”
Izaak Wilson, a volunteer from Portswood who will also be fasting, said: “I’m working on an empty stomach for a day, but that’s become a permanent situation for far too many people under this government. I’m fasting to raise awareness of that fact.”
But Councillor Smith said: “Foodbanks and foodbank use increased under the last Labour Government.
“The increase in them and their use is as a direct result of the last Government’s debt and deficit.”