The launch of a city wide action plan on food poverty
Never mind the human and social cost, food poverty has a financial cost too. If people can't afford to eat healthily, they become overweight, underweight or simply badly nourished. We know this leads to poor health, and greater costs to the NHS.
So how do you develop answers? And just what can happen when you bring together some of the city's key decision makers, including Directors of Social Care and Public Health, alongside local food poverty organisations and plenty of coffee? We will shortly be finding out at our round table on food poverty.
There are no easy answers and budgets are tighter than they have ever been, but we can't afford to ignore this problem: food poverty in our city is unacceptable and cannot be ignored. Brighton and Hove City Council, with all political parties on board, have agreed to work with us on an ambitious goal: developing a Food Poverty Action Plan.
5 things you need to know about food poverty in Brighton & Hove:
- There is no official measurement of food poverty, but Brighton & Hove have led the way by asking a new question in an annual city-wide survey. The results were shocking: almost a quarter of local people (23%) said they will not have enough money in the next year to cover their basic living costs for food, water and heating - figures were even higher for people with a long term health condition or disability, women and 18-34 year olds.
- Britain has experienced very high food and fuel inflation. In the decade from 2003, food inflation was 47% in Britain, 30.4% in the United States, 22.1% in Germany and 16.7% in France. Britain also experienced the highest fuel inflation (153.6%) and housing inflation (30.4%) - but wages increased by only 28%. (From Feeding Britain, the recent Parliamentary Report).
- 15% of parents of children with special needs, supported by local charity Amaze, said they had reduced the size of meals or skipped meals in the previous two months - because there wasn't enough money for food for everyone.
- There are now 15 food banks in the city serving over 270 households a week. Brighton's largest food bank sees up to 20 clients per day by referral, ranging from families with young children to pensioners. This is a 53% increase from 2012-13.
- But..... food bank use and 'emergency food poverty' is just part of the problem - we need to think too about 'on-going food poverty' resulting in people skipping meals or making unhealthier choices - or given the importance of diet to good health, what the costs add up to for our health services in future?
If you are interested in contributing to our research, or the plan, please contact Emily, 01273 431700.
For more information read our Food Poverty Briefing.