Campaigner of the Year

Jack Monroe

“My politics are food-related – food banks, the living wage, zero-hour contracts – and my food is political.”

The Campaign

Jack Monroe is a food writer and activist on the issues of poverty and hunger relief, having experienced both herself. At a time when the cost of living is drastically rising, and in the damaging aftermath of the pandemic, Jack works tirelessly to ensure people living on a tight budget can maintain a healthy and balanced diet.

Alongside a never-ending flow of practical, nutritious recipes using cheap ingredients, Jack has used social media, media interviews, and her books to raise awareness of the stark challenges facing low-income people across the UK.

Jack’s effectiveness as an anti-poverty campaigner hit the headlines in early 2022. All Bootstrap Cook recipes are meticulously cross-referenced and this attention to detail enabled her to highlight the shocking price increases to basic supermarket ranges, which seized the public consciousness and prompted a swift response from the Government and food retailers.

The Change

Jack used her massive social media following to highlight the price increases and her detailed Twitter thread on the subject was read by 26 million people. As she says, ‘I have a platform, so I’m asked again and again to advocate for people who are still in poverty, but I’m just trying to gather their stories.’

Her research sparked a media storm, forcing Asda into a making its cheapest food ranges more widely available after her social media campaign. Asda said it had taken onboard her comments and would stock its full Smart Price and Farm Stores ranges in all 581 food stores and online, increasing the number of customers who have access to the products.

In January 2022, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) admitted that ‘one inflation rate doesn’t fit all’, after Jack pointed out that everyday essentials were going up in price by more than the official inflation rate and disproportionately affecting those on low incomes. The ONS has now committed to investigate making inflation rates equitable across income brackets. Jack has since launched the Vimes Boots Poverty Index to register the disproportionate effect price rises have on lower paid shoppers.

The Future

Though Jack was ‘delighted’ by the ONS announcement, the work is far from over. The Spring Statement warned that inflation would average 7.4% this year, which will have a drastic impact on the cost of living and push even more people into poverty.

The Office for Budget Responsibility concludes that this year will see a 2.2% fall in real household disposable income per person, the largest fall in a single financial year since records began in 1956 – 57.

Jack addressed Parliament’s Work and Pensions Select Committee in March. She warned MPs that children and disabled people experiencing food insecurity risked being trapped in a ‘never-ending loop of difficulty’, including chronic health conditions, mental illness, and depression.

Jack’s campaigning will be needed now more than ever. Expect more recipes, more interviews, more lobbying of the Government and, most of all, more of the compassion and unrelenting commitment that has led to Jack being nominated for this award.

“Until people realise ‘benefits’ doesn’t mean ‘scrounger’, and austerity isn’t a fun middle-class way to grow your own vegetables, there’s still a lot of work to do.”

Who else was involved?

Jack’s achievements are driven by her own tenacity and persistence, but she’s a great collaborator, and has previously campaigned alongside organisations such as Unite, the Trussell Trust, Child Poverty Action Group and Oxfam.