Where we are

Where we are now

July 20 Letter to PM "In a week that has seen the Government prioritise giving £10 vouchers to restaurant-goers over making sure millions can eat at all, food bank managers and volunteers are telling the Prime Minister that relying on food charities is not the answer to people’s inability to afford food."

Food Control

Jay Raynor said in 'Saving Britain's Food Supply' “'If you can’t feed a country, you haven’t got a country.'

Tim in the Lancet: "The UK state is reverting to its default positions of centralisation and planning secrecy that are reminiscent of what William Beveridge called, after World War 1, top-down “food control”. What is needed is engaged food democracy. To be fair, the UK Government's rationale for food secrecy is fear of panic buying to which just-in-time delivery systems are vulnerable. Food industries agree; they know border and transport blockages will happen." (Aug 19).

Families can't afford to eat Eatwell Guidelines, according to Food Foundation, saying "the poorest fifth of homes with children would have to spend 42% of their disposable income". Harder than ever to eat healthy

MPs call for 'Minister for Hunger' accusing the Government of letting efforts to tackle malnutrition slip "between the cracks". Food Hardship Fund'

Fruit & Hot dishes dropped from school menus as costs rise

Right to Food

Is there a Right to Food? "According to the UN, about 8.4 million people are currently suffering from food insecurity in the UK. To put it bluntly, they don’t know where their next meal is coming from". Food insecurity means , according to the UN, “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.”
Political support for 'Right to Food' leps forward. "The Labour Party has joined the LibDem Party, the Co-operative Party and the Scottish Government in committing to a Right to Food in UK law". #Right2Food .
Is Labour's commitment - mainly to eliminate food banks in 3 years through ditching Universal Credit - enough? To reduce the number of people starving is vital but "People should feel empowered, choices should be available and feasible, and no exploitation in the food system should be rewarded." Labour is also committed to the establishment of a National Food Commission to monitor food insecurity. there is also a promise of a £6 million contribution to an Access to Food Fund to kick start the development of local community food plans in the 50 most food deprived areas of the country. These are "complementary measures that share the centrality of food in any society and aim to go beyond handouts and charity" while recognising "public authorities must do much more than this is to build a right-based food system:"
There is a new phrase called 'Holiday Hunger' where 3 million children are at risk. Feeding Britain expects to feed 27,000 children in England this summer. "Kids’ clubs are stepping in to fill the gap and stop children going hungry during the school holidays, as families struggle with austerity ". Something we cant blame Brexit for - but in this day and age it is hard to believe.
Third of Universal Credit claimants hit by cuts to pay their rent arrears etc, driving them to Food banks. Government investigating whether their own plans are to blame.
Kings College analysis of 'Article 50 One year on' includes fisheries, (another version) rural sovereign fund, agricultural policy (another version), environment (another version)
Recognising the Right to Food does not mean handouts but radical transformations. "Time seems to be ripe to put food at the centre of analogous political and legislative processes across the European Union."


Malnutrition Week Food Foundation says "the UK is not performing well enough on all SDG 2 targets. This is particularly true for Target 2.2 on ending all forms of malnutrition,
Universal Credit will mean Christmas is ‘a catastrophe’ for families, charities claim. New benefit claimants will need to wait till January ('19) for payments after final Scottish roll-out to Glasgow"
Scale of hunger "There is no single, nationwide Government measure for hunger in the UK "
Children's Hunger Agony of hunger the norm for many children in UK " it has been made sickeningly clear to me that, in 2019, parts of Britain are yet again immersed in experiences of social suffering that are akin to the “devil’s decade” of the 1930s. "
Labour would introduce "Future Generations Wellbeing Act, as the party has done in Wales, and commit £26.8m to the already existing ‘Healthy Start’ programme. Children in the most deprived areas of the country should be provided with fresh fruit and vegetables."
Healthy food for poor families has reduced childhood obesity in US
Eating alone "Almost a third of British adults are eating alone “most or all of the time”, according to the latest Wellbeing Index, "
Frozen foods coming to schools in Tayside
Poorest children spurn school meals
Tackling Rural Food poverty
First female president of NFU Minette Buyers spells out where farming is now - Summer 2019
Farmers applied for 171% more support from RABI in last year. Brexit and Bad weather puts farmers at increased risk of suicide (usually one/week)

Voices for the Stonehouse (Plymouth) hub share just a snippet of the harrowing stories they hear in the hope of raising awareness of their cause and the city's ever-growing plight.

"Social workers and families have told me that it is standard for a welfare check to include social workers looking through parents’ fridges and kitchen cupboards. Poverty is making families terrified that local authorities will consider that the threshold of “significant harm” has been reached, and fear their children could be removed because there’s not enough food in the house."

Child Poverty Action Group published Living Hand to Mouth, that shone a spotlight on children’s experiences of food and eating in low-income families.


From 'Just about managing' to 'Not quite making it'. It's Human Rights Day (Dec 10), 'make the right to food part of Scots law', says Pete Ritchie, Director of 'Nourish' Scotland. (He spoke with me at a Kindling/FEC Conference prior to the Referendum, when he said that 'our Brexit' referendum was being carried out in 2.5 months, whereas their Scottish one took 2.5 years and only then were they getting to the important matters. He said our Referendum would be dominated by cartoon characters. How right he was)
The recent report from UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston called out the UK Government for its “punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous approach”.
Food bank use continues to rise, and behind this the Scottish Government’s figures on food insecurity show that worrying about not having enough to eat is now commonplace in our land of food and drink. Some 12% of single parent households ran out of food last year.
Scotland launches Good Food Futures "designed to teach children and young people about Scotland’s food industry and give children a greater understanding of where food comes from and the many career opportunities available in the industry."
Dept Work & Pensions bans Job Centres from referring people to Food Banks Feb 19
We should stop saying 'food poverty' and just say 'poverty' according to Jay Raynor
There’s one change we can make, on behalf of a child going hungry today. It’s introducing food standards into food banks.#doNATION
First Children's book about Food Banks
Newly elected Tory MP has 'Foodbank' App "which charges foodbanks to include their shopping lists of needed items."
Food banks - the weird ideas about what we’re supposed to donate

Food Banks

Numbers of 3-day food parcels nearly double from May 2019-20

In Dec 2019 there are more foodbanks in the UK than McDonald's branches.

Food Banks run out of milk and other essentials as coronavirus panic kicks in

2019 Over 1.5 MILLION food packages handed out. Trusell Trust map of those requiring 3 day emergency food packages. In the 1990s there were no food banks. They have increased as inequality in Britain has increased.
A quarter of parents in Leeds are less than a month away from not being able to put food on the table for their children. Around 180,000 people have admitted that they are struggling to afford food for their children and opt to go hungry themselves.Jacob Rees-Mogg PM (Minister for the 18th century) challenged to work in a Food Bank after saying they showed ‘a rather uplifting show of charity’. Adding ‘I don’t think the state can do everything’. It helps promote the ‘Big Society’ philosophy. Yet, you would think a modern day state, 6th largest in the world, could manage to feed people decently. Trying to explain why the number of Food Banks has risen so dramatically since the Tories came to power in 2010, Rees-Mogg said it was because the Job Centres direct people to them – that Labour had prevented. But Tressell Trust said that in 2016-7 only 5% referrals came from that source.
A lot of food in food banks is not what you would put on a 'healthy' list - it is often local manufacturers getting rid of excess bread, biscuits and tins. However there are initiatives to provide healthier food in food banks and for recipients to find out how to cook and eat better.
Liverpool Chef is determined to provide decent food for food banks "He doesn’t want to be dishing out charity. Most of all, he hates the food aid system and is trying to build an alternative to charity. He condemns food banks for serving “poor food to poor people..instead providing good healthy meals."
Understanding the health and well-being challenges of food baking and food poverty shows how they both exacerbate existing health problems and cause new ones.
1 in 10 pensioners malnourished with 'Meals on Wheels' under threat.
The tale that made a Tory MP cry
Food Bank as it is. The brutality of Food poverty - watch out for the play
7th Anniversary of Food bank in Amber Rudd's constituency. Amounts given out have more than doubled since introduction of Universal Credit. Their foodbank manager puts it this way: “What used to be our ceiling has now become our floor.”
The failure of food charity by Dan Crossley Food Ethics Council "The default corporate response is often to seek redistribution of ever more surplus food rather than question the inefficient business models that have food waste built into them, not to mention wasted resources, time, effort and money. "

Food Banks braced, as food price rises will hit poor most. The poorest fifth spend proportionately more on food (14% wages cf 10%). New government document - Yellowhammer, says 'no deal' will affect them most.

The yellowhammer’s tune is believed to sound like someone saying “A little bit of bread and no cheese”. When naming their preparations for stockpiling food and other essentials, the UK government evoked the yellowhammer’s report of a bare kitchen cupboard. Conversation

Calls to guarantee food for vulnerable

Food banks increasing in schools

Priti Patel says poverty 'is not the government's fault' - while stood in front of a food bank!


Better than Food Banks?

Can Cook and Rose Petal Vouchers help to increase access to fruit and veg by giving families the spending power to be able to make healthier food choices. They also help local markets, developing relations between the two. By bundling up the £3+B of CAP subsidies and giving to local authorities according to population, a city size of Preston could receive £20m - to fund vouchers to buy local food. More in What we can do
Help every child have a healthy start in life. "Healthy Start vouchers help young and low-income pregnant women, and children, to buy fruits, vegetables, milk and infant formula".
Families failed to receive £28.1m in vouchers in 2018. In a letter to Health Secretary, a group of organisations including Trussell Trust, Sustain, the Royal Society for Public Health and the Royal College of Midwives, said families were loosing out on free fruit, vegetables and milk they were entitled to via ‘Healthy Start’ vouchers because ministers spent no money promoting the scheme. By contrast, the government has spent £1.5bn preparing for a no-deal Brexit - something which MPs have repeatedly rejected. (Check out use of vouchers in USA)

Food Insecurity

The UN reckons that one in ten Brits do not know where their next meal is coming from.
Food Insecurity Bill Second Reading February to require government to monitor and report on 'food insecurity'Dramatic increase in fast food outlets near schools. "The number of fast food outlets within five minutes’ walk of a school gate has increased by 67 per cent in the last eight years "
Under new rules for Universal Credit, children of people earning more than £7,500/yr will not be entitled to free school meals in the future. Labour said this will amount to about 1.1 million children loosing out, while the government claimed it would benefit an extra 50,000 (through Means Testing). They say that not one child will have a free meal taken away, but that in future, others may not be eligible. The Tories scrapped their manifesto pledge to cut free school meals for primary schools pupils.
Environmental Audit Committee says "Food insecurity levels in the UK are among the worst – if not the worst– in Europe, especially for children." Nearly 1 in 10 people in the UK are food insecure. "The scale of the problem of food insecurity and poverty in the UK can be illustrated by the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme poverty and Human Rights at the end of last year. he said "One actor has stubbornly resisted seeing the situation for what it is. The Government has remained determinedly in a state of denial."UK & Ireland Fastest rising food insecurity "answers to the question ‘can your household afford a meal with meat, chicken or fish every other day?’, from the European Quality of Life Survey. Statistically significant rises in food insecurity across the majority of European countries (from 6.5 to 8.7 per cent between 2003 and 2011 on average). In the UK, we saw a rise in food insecurity from 3.8 to 8.8 per cent. " EU Stats

Household Food Insecurity Bill aims to create a measurement of household food insecurity

Food Poverty

Food poverty campaign update highlights The End Hunger coalition, of which Sustain is a member, have launched a petition calling on the Prime Minister to fix Universal Credit.
Children's Future Food Inquiry An estimated 4.1 million children are living in poverty in the UK, but we do not know how many children experience food insecurity and how it impacts their lives. At the same time children are suffering from record levels of obesity and it is worst in the poorest parts of the country. This inquiry wants to hear about children's experiences.
Greater Manchester Food Poverty Action Plan is "made up of over 100 people and organisations, including many with lived experience of food poverty, working towards a concerted strategic response to food poverty in our city region. "

Fast Food

We hear a lot about 'food security', and often the impression given is that all we have to do to improve that is to produce more food. Yet food security for many people nowadays involves where their next meal is coming from. We do not need to produce more food to deal with that. There are massive amounts of food thrown away. The deeper issue is that people cannot afford to buy or the time to cook healthier food.
England's poorest areas are fast food hotspots. Shame PHE is giving the old nutritional advice 'reduce fats' when now shown to be false - the trouble is with refined carbohydrates and sugars. SEE Obesity Chapter.

Processed Foods

A study of 19 countries has found that the UK has the most ultra- processed food per household amounting to over 50% of dietary energy. "A significant positive association was found between national household availability of ultra-processed foods and national prevalence of obesity among adults..each percentage point increase in this availability resulted in an increase of 0·25 percentage points in obesity prevalence." More See Obesity Chapter.
Junk Food Adverts seem more concentrated in poor areas. "Using a combination of artificial intelligence and street-view images, Mark Green and his colleagues at the University of Liverpool mapped the content and geographical location of more than 10,000 outdoor adverts in the city."


Food Banks drowning in milk that China wont buy "About 60,000 gallons of fresh, free milk will be driven from dairy farms and processors in Phoenix, Arizona and High Point, North Carolina, to food banks across Colorado." USA announces another $16B to farmers based on the estimated impact of each county’s “unjustified trade retaliation.” Still having difficulty distributing milk for free meals. through £14.b scheme.


Austerity and Food Sovereignty "The focus on food producers and rural areas also draws attention to an overlooked aspect of Greece’s crisis as these sectors and regions often lack voice and recognition in national politics and decision-making."