As I’m sure many of you are aware, yesterday the government voted against extending free school-meals for children during the school holidays until Easter 2021. In a campaign headed by Marcus Rashford, food vouchers were provided from June 16th 2020 to support low-income families during the summer holidays. Unfortunately, in the reviewing of the future use for these food vouchers, the government has voted against continuing to aid struggling families and starving children in England.
In 2019, an enquiry by The Food Foundation estimated that 1/6 children in London experience food insecurity (not enough food, poor quality food and food of little nutritional value), despite London being the capital of the 6th richest economy in the world.
Here is a summary of some of the other statistics reported in 2019 by the Food Foundation:
- 41% of parents earning less than £14,600 have children living in food insecurity.
- 70% of young parents have children who are food insecure.
- Parents are more likely to protect their children’s food at the expense of their own.
- 3.7 million children live in households where the outlined healthy diet as described by the government is unaffordable.
- The relative cost of ‘healthy’ food is 3x more expensive than ‘unhealthy food’.
- The groups most likely to have children experiencing food insecurity are single parents (36%), low income Londoners (41%) and Black Londoners (31%).
These statistics are based off data reported before the pandemic hit. Since the pandemic, other preliminary enquiries by the The Food Foundation have reported a worsening of food insecurity:
The number of adults who are food insecure in the Britain is estimated to havePreliminary Report
quadrupled under the COVID-19 lockdown.
Adults who were working in February 2020 but who reported being unemployed in May or July were about 2.5 times more likely to be experiencing food insecurity than those who remained in work (18.5% vs. 7.4%, respectively).Unemployment and Job Retention on Food Insecurity
While this data is for adult populations, the rise in adult food insecurity can only mean a rise in child food insecurity also, which is truly a tragedy.
Ways to help?
Charities, Food Banks and Volunteering
FareShare is a charity aiming to reduce food insecurity by redistributing surplus food to other charities that turn the food into meals to help feed communities. They work with over 500 food companies, both big and small, to reduce their food waste and redistribute it. As an individual you can donate or volunteer with FareShare.
Another charity similar to FareShare is the Felix Project .The Felix Project is for London only.
On a much smaller level, Olio is about redistributing the food that you as an individual don’t or haven’t used or that you have cooked or baked. As an app, Olio lets you upload your food and share it with other members of your community for free.
Olio also gives you the opportunity to become a Food Waste Hero in some areas for certain shops and supermarkets. This allows you to collect the unsold produce and share it via the Olio app.
Another app fighting food waste is Too Good To Go. Instead of sharing your own food with your community, Too Good To Go allows you to buy unsold food at a discount from cafes, restaurants, supermarkets, hotels and shops. While not primarily for reducing food insecurity, it could provide an another option for those who are struggling.
Instead of using Olio to share food with your community, food banks are another way of redistributing your unused food. Food banks turn donated food into food parcels and deliver them to families in need. Food banks rely on local support, donation and volunteers.
Around the country there are various Soup kitchens which aim to provide hot meals to those who are in need. Volunteering positions are usually open for most of them and all take donations.
Below are some links to various soup kitchens around the country:
Tracy’s Street Kitchen – Nottingham
Soup Run – Southampton
Campaigning and making your voice heard will always be a fantastic way to help too. Be passionate. Stand up for what is right. Support the campaigns of others such as Marcus Rashford. Just because the government has withdrawn their support for the moment, his fight, your fight and our fight for the elimination of food poverty is not over.
Below I have linked further resources for information or ways to help. Food is a basic human right, and even though we called on the government to act, it is the responsibility of all of us to help where we can, especially when our government refuses to. It is predicted that this winter will be especially difficult for both those living with food insecurity and the charities involved due to the effects of the pandemic. So while the government refuses to help, there are many ways in which we all, as individuals, can. Neither children, nor adults, should have to be hungry.
If you have any further links, charities or sites of information that you feel also belong here, please feel free to let me know and I shall add them in.