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1.4 million UK children have faced hunger in the past six months

Child Food Poverty Task Force spear-headed by @MarcusRashford as new data from @Food_Foundation reveals 14% of UK families with children have experienced food insecurity in the past six months 

The Food Foundation has joined the Child Food Poverty Task Force formed and spear-headed by Marcus Rashford which is calling on the Government to implement 3 National Food Strategy policy recommendations to support our most vulnerable children.

New data shows that 14% of adults living with children reported experiencing moderate or severe food insecurity in the last 6 months. Four million people including 2.3 million children live in these households.

This compares to pre-Covid-19 levels of 11.5% amongst households with children.

The data revealed that 12% of adults living with children reported skipping meals because they could not afford or access food in the last 6 months.

4% of adults living with children reported having gone for a whole day without eating in the last 6 months

10% of parents/guardians, affecting an estimated 1.9 million children, reported some form of child food insecurity in the past 6 months

The Food Foundation’s Covid-19 tracker shows that, despite people returning to work and children to school, food insecurity remains extremely high for families.

While vital measures like the furlough scheme and Free School Meal vouchers may have prevented the situation worsening, a large number of children are still left in a precarious situation when it comes to securing the necessary healthy diet for them to grow, develop and participate actively in school and society.

Marcus Rashford’s Task Force is asking Government to allocate sufficient budget to implementing 3 policy recommendations included in the National Food Strategy:

  1. Expand eligibility for the Free School Meal scheme to include every child (up to the age of 16) from a household where the parent or guardian is in receipt of Universal Credit (or equivalent benefits1). Under this recommendation an estimated additional 1.5 million 7-16 year olds would benefit from Free School Meals.
  2. Extend the Holiday Activity and Food Programme to all areas in England, so that summer holiday support is available to all children in receipt of Free School Meals.
  3. Increase the value of Healthy Start vouchers to £4.25 per week and expand the scheme to every pregnant woman and to all households with children under 4 where a parent or guardian is in receipt of Universal Credit or equivalent benefits.

New data from the Food Foundation reveals that 13.6% of adults living with children reported experiences of moderate or severe food insecurity in the past 6 months. 4 million people live in these affected households including 2.3 million children. This remains higher than pre-Covid-19 levels of 11.5% of households with children.      

10% of parents/guardians, affecting an estimated 1.9million children, reported that food insecurity had affected their children in a variety of ways in the last 6 months forcing them to  rely on only a few kinds of low cost food to feed their children (6%) and provide unbalanced meals (5%), and to resort to smaller portions (1%) or skipping meals entirely (2%).

The data, taken from a YouGov survey commissioned by The Food Foundation, demonstrates the need for urgent action to address the high numbers of families experiencing food insecurity. The Government’s furlough scheme, increase in Universal Credit payments and the extension to Free School Meal vouchers throughout the summer holidays were necessary stopgap measures to prevent the situation worsening.  While 30-day food insecurity rates have improved since the first few months of lockdown,  the data confirms the need for long-lasting policy measures to be implemented to ensure parents and children have access to a healthy diet.

England International footballer Marcus Rashford’s new Child Food Poverty Task Force, launched on 1st Sept, has enlisted the support of national supermarkets including Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Iceland, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose, as well as food brands Heinz and Kellogg’s, online food delivery service Deliveroo, and charities The Food Foundation and Fareshare, to endorse three policy recommendations,  included in Henry Dimbleby’s Part 1, National Food Strategy, ahead of The Chancellor’s  Budget and Spending Review. This new data from The Food Foundation highlights the urgency with which the Government needs to act.   

Anna Taylor, Executive Director of Food Foundation said of the new data:

“The situation for families and their children is precarious.  It’s vital that the economic measures which have been put in place to protect struggling families are maintained and increased further in the Autumn budget given the economic scenario we are facing. Too many families are missing out with devastating, life-long impacts on our children.  Our data shows that government action really matters and has a direct impact on people’s lives and the future health and wellbeing of our children.”

Marcus Rashford, Footballer and food poverty campaigner said: “As a sportsman, I have always found such power in unity and teamwork, and I’m thrilled that such influential voices have put any allegiance aside to join me on my mission to move the conversation of child food insecurity forward.  2.3 million children have been living in food insecure households over the last 6 months.  The Task Force stand together to offer these vulnerable children the platform they need to have their voices heard. I encourage everyone to stop and listen. The time for action is now. I’m proud and I’m humbled to see such a reaction and commitment from the food industry, and I am confident that together we can help change the lives of those most vulnerable for the better.”

Saffron Stedall, England, 16, Food Foundation Young Ambassador, said: “Lockdown has been really tough for so many young people and affected our lives in so many ways. But there is now a real possibility that government could bring in some policies to help end the stigma of poverty and improve kids’ access to healthy, sustainable food. It would be good for our health and good for the planet too.”

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