A report by the Food Foundation has shown that almost one in 20 people say that members of their household have gone a whole day without eating in the past month, because they couldn’t afford or get access to food.
Released as part of their #EndChildFoodPoverty campaign, spearheaded by Marcus Rashford, the report provides evidence that the pandemic has had a devastating impact on the UK’s most vulnerable populations and that the problem of household food insecurity continues to be at crisis levels. It concludes that the cost-of-living crisis was causing a clear increase in hunger in the UK. In April 2022 13.8% of households experienced moderate or severe food insecurity, a 5% point increase on January 2022.
Emma Thompson, Ambassador Children’s Right2Food Campaign said: “In the sixth richest economy in the world these figures speak for themselves. There is absolutely no need for any child to go hungry in the UK. The fact that they are and in increasing numbers suggests cracks in a broken food system that can and must be repaired as a matter of the utmost urgency. Apart from the moral duty we owe to children, this is a severe public health problem.”
The report urges Government to make food security a priority in recovery planning and move away from short-term solutions, food banks and emergency food aid.
Headline statistics quoted in the report show that:
- Households with children have higher levels of food insecurity compared to those without. An estimated 2.3 million children live in households that have experienced food insecurity in the past 6 months (12% of households with children).
- The situation is even worse in households with children on Free School Meals. 41% have reported food insecurity in the past 6 months.
- Food insecurity remains higher than pre-Covid levels affecting an estimated 4.7 million adults (9% of households) over the last six months. This compares to pre-Covid levels of 7.6%.
- 55% of those experiencing food insecurity (an estimated 2.5 million adults) said it was because they did not have enough money for food, 31% said it was due to isolation, 23% said it was lack of access and supply and 8% cited other reasons in the last six months.
- Despite Government’s financial support schemes and the Universal Credit £20 uplift, 22% of households have experienced a drop in income since Feb 2020.
Reasons for Food Insecurity Reported by Children
Since Christmas, 20% of children aged 8-17 (over 1.5 million) reported some form of food insecurity (mild, moderate or severe). This has not improved since the summer holidays when18% of children reported food insecurity.
- 5% (410,000) said they were hungry but didn’t eat because didn’t want to use up food in the house.
- 5% (360,000) said they didn’t eat because we didn’t have enough food in the house.
- 6% (500,000) said their parents didn’t eat because of not having enough food to go around.
- 9% (660,000) said they had to eat less and make food last longer because of lack of money.
- 5% (370,000) said they sometimes didn’t eat proper meals because of not having enough money to buy more food.
- 4% (320,000) said they sometimes ate at friend’s houses because we didn’t have enough food in the house.
Nearly 1 million children (13%) aged 8-17 years reported that either they or their family had visited a food bank since early December 2020. This has risen by two percentage points since the summer holidays (11%). The proportion of children on Free School Meals who said they or their families had visited a food bank (32%) was 10 times higher than those not on Free School Meals (3%).
The three key recommendations outlined in the report are:
- An urgent review of Free School Meals: prioritising ensuring the eligibility threshold does not exclude any disadvantaged children from accessing a healthy meal.
- Businesses should pay at least the Real Living Wage and the Government should make the £20 Universal credit uplift permanent.
- Designate authority in Government to be responsible for monitoring and tackling food insecurity.
CLICK HERE to read the Full Report ‘Crisis Within a Crisis’ on the Food Foundation’s website