People have been going through hard times since well before the age of Charles Dickens, so perhaps it is no surprise that sadly there are problems with hunger in our society.
However, in the era of the iPhone, the Xbox and supermarkets that stock food from literally all around the world – and relatively cheaply – it remains shocking that we live in an era in which children are going hungry.
Being shocked by this is not the result of living in an ivory tower or not paying attention to how the other half live. Being shocked is the natural human reaction to living in a developed society that somehow cannot feed its youngest.
We report today that Warburtons bakers has supplied food to what was called the Holiday Hunger scheme, breakfast clubs set up across Portsmouth to provide kids with a nutritious meal when school dinners are not available.
Full credit to the company for doing so, but the overwhelming reaction to this is a horror that it is necessary for the firm to do so.
We have already reported this summer that a food bank in North End ran out of supplies at the beginning of the school holidays, as demand rose so much, and here is further proof that there is too much desperation in this city – no doubt replicated nationwide.
For too long naysayers have derided food banks, saying they cater to the feckless. Some people have chosen to take that stance for political reasons, unwilling to accept that their party has been in government at a time when a need for handouts has ballooned.
But as time goes on, it is clear that something is broken. Wages are not rising enough to keep up with costs, even though supermarket food is not – relatively – expensive. Years of austerity, a diminution of benefits – especially those paid to people in work, not just to jobseekers – and cost-cutting companies have left us with a toxic combination.
Any answer is not going to be easy, and will be expensive for either the state or employers. But right now, the fact that in 21st century Britain many children in our city have to rely on charity to stave of hunger is disgusting.