Dr Sinéad Furey of Ulster University says that food poverty is now a public health emergency and the number of emergency food parcels distributed by food banks is rising.
In January 2019, the Environmental Audit Committee published their latest report on the Sustainable Development Goals in the UK follow-up: Hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity in the UK.
The major findings were that:
- Food insecurity is significant and growing in the UK, with levels among the worst in Europe, especially for children.
- Government has failed to recognise and respond domestically – and has allowed these issues to ‘fall between the cracks’.
- Government obesity strategy is silent on food insecurity.
- Minister for Hunger should be appointed to ensure cross-departmental action.
The report highlights the need to ensure Government cross-departmental understanding and action on hunger and implement strategies for improvement and monitor progress.
Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, Mary Creagh MP, said: “The combination of high living costs, stagnating wages and often, the rollout of Universal Credit and the wider benefits system, means that levels of hunger in Britain are some of the highest across Europe. We found that nearly one in five children under 15 are living in a food insecure home – a scandal which cannot be allowed to continue.“
The report’s findings align with details in the recent book, The Economics of Emergency Food Aid Provision: A Financial, Social and Cultural Perspective by Martin Caraher and Sinéad Furey.
In London the Ummah Welfare Trust has been implementing a volunteer led drive to help raise awareness and help alleviate food poverty.
After delivering essentials and food parcels to Brocklebank homeless hostel in Barking & Dagenham, UWT Public Relations and Fundraising Manager Shaba Ali commented, “Although we live in the seventh richest country in the world it is a huge concern when you get an idea of the depth of the problem we have here. In fact one in four children are currently living in poverty in our country and this figure is growing to give us some of the highest rates of childhood food insecurity in all of Europe.
“Just like any other charity UWT will work with the community to provide support to those who need it the most.”