Family eating

Child food poverty becoming accepted part of UK social landscape

By: Information Daily Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, February 10, 2015 - 09:54 GMT Jump to Comments

The University of Manchester is to work with charities to research ways to tackle food insecurity and reduce food waste in the UK. The project will look at how society can reduce waste and get more food to those who cannot afford it.

The Manchester project will look to develop partnerships for fresh food recycling and purchasing in order to increase capacity and reduce costs. It will also explore ways to get food parcels to those that need them and look into providing hands-on cooking training for people who want to learn how to make good, affordable food from scratch, pick up budgeting tips and understand more about healthy eating.

There will also be training for people who want to become volunteers themselves, helping them to develop their skills by working with the organisations that have helped them.

Dr Kingsley Purdam, a lecturer and expert on food insecurity and food banks, will lead the project for the University. His recent research concluded that food insecurity and malnutrition in the UK is a much wider problem than has been recognised. The rapid growth in the number of food banks and food donation points in supermarkets suggests a ‘normalisation’ of food aid in the UK.

There is plenty of evidence for this normalization of food aid.

Anya Willis, Director of Re:store Northampton, which runs Northampton Food Bank, said that “there has been an increase in numbers accessing food banks across the UK over the last two years.

"During 2014, in Northampton alone, over 8,500 adults and children have had to rely upon emergency one-off food parcels due to extreme financial crisis and food poverty.

"In addition to the crisis response, we are training up volunteers to give additional support to those in most need", says Mrs Willis, “including developing cookery classes, wellbeing clinics, financial advice, courses to help support freedom from addictions and signposting and support for a range of socio-economic problems".

Seb Serayet, Development Manager for FareShare (one of the charities collaborating on the Manchester University project), said: “We supply hundreds of tons of surplus food to over 130 charitable organisations who feed vulnerable people in Greater Manchester.

"However, giving food does not solve the problem. We need to do more to understand and address the underlying causes of food insecurity and poverty and working with the University and front line partners will help us to achieve this.”

Many working in the frontline dealing with the UK food crisis say that the underlying causes are not difficult to discern. Austerity driven cuts mean that local government is unable to provide the support it has historically, leaving charitable and non-statutory organisations that rely largely upon charitable funding, a voluntary workforce and donations from the public to take the strain.

It is clear, however, that the solution is not simply for Councils to allocate more money to the problem.

"Northampton Food Bank are part of a Food Poverty Network which seeks to address food waste and distribution as well as develop practises that tackle the causes of the poverty that people are facing," says Anya Willis of Re:store Northampton. “How is it possible that 1 in 4 children are living in poverty in the UK, whilst we allow 18 million tons of food to be sent to landfill each year?"

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