Food&Drink Writer Rubaya Zayman delves into the problem of food poverty within the UK, questioning what is being done to tackle this important issue
Food poverty is the inability to afford or even have access to food that is a part of a healthy diet. It is not only about the quantity of food available but also the quality of the food to maintain good health through proper nourishment. This is an issue in the UK because people in this situation must rely on charitable donations through food banks. They do not have the comfort of knowing when their next meal will be and with this insecurity many often experience long periods of hunger as well as financial and health related issues. Food poverty is an important issue because it affects many people in the UK.
Children are affected when there is an absence of free school meals during the holidays. Parents who are on low incomes are affected when they go without food so that their children are able to eat, or their limited budget leaves them struggling to purchase healthy food (which is often more expensive than cheap ready-meals). Furthermore, elderly people who are not able to prepare healthy meals without support are also affected. Experiencing hunger has become a daily struggle for many adults and children and this is continually increasing. Food poverty is on the rise, as an estimated 8.4 million people in the UK struggle to get enough food to eat. So, what is being done to tackle this critical issue?
For children who face this issue in Cumbria, they are able to participate in Feed and Read sessions run by libraries who offer free healthy lunch as well as providing books for access. The program has proven to be hugely successful with children and this is something that should be available for all children across the UK to deal with the issue of food poverty. Also, calls are also being made to extend free school meals to all children.
Fiona Twycross an Assembly Member of the Trussell Trust who made the suggestion in the Daily Mirror said: “Food banks and other charities do an incredible job of providing emergency food parcels to those affected by food poverty, but the simple truth is they shouldn’t exist in the first place. Many of the solutions to tackling food insecurity lie in the hands of national Government.” It is the Government’s responsibility to create an annual measurement and continuing monitoring of household food poverty to understand the intensity of the issue. In turn, supportive measures can be put in place such as programmes which ensure effective financial and emotional assistance is given to people in times of crisis.