East Lothian’s food and drink sector is undoubtedly one of the finest anywhere in Scotland, or indeed, the UK. Long known as the ‘Garden of Scotland’, the quality of our local produce has helped the sector thrive over many years. In 2016, that success was consolidated and enhanced by the establishment of East Lothian Food and Drink, the first food-based Business Improvement District (BID) project in the UK.
Five years on, the BID was recently renewed by local producers in a vote of confidence in its positive impact. The decision to renew the BID will enable the sector to continue to build on the solid foundation it has helped create and promote the high quality and sustainable food and drink produced across the county.
The renewal also came just weeks before the beginning of this year’s Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight, the annual campaign to showcase the excellence of our food and drink sector. East Lothian has featured prominently so far, including as part of its virtual tour of Scotland’s producers. The fortnight ends on 19th September, so there is still time to get involved at https://fooddrinkfort.scot/
However, while it is right that we celebrate this excellence, it also highlights how shocking it is that people are still experiencing food insecurity and hunger in twenty-first century Scotland. The pandemic has only exacerbated this, making the need for action all the more urgent.
To help tackle this growing problem, my colleague Rhoda Grant has lodged a Right to Food Bill at Holyrood. It seeks to enshrine the right in law and create an independent statutory body to ensure no one goes hungry in Scotland.
The passage of this bill would give the Scottish Government responsibility for ensuring that food is available, accessible, and adequate for everyone. I hope that Parliament will pass the legislation and send a clear message that food poverty and hunger have no place in modern Scotland.