New data from The Food Foundation shows that more households with children (in the UK aged 17 and under) are experiencing food insecurity than in the first wave of the pandemic.
15% have experienced food insecurity in the past six months. These levels are approximately 27% higher than before COVID.
In addition, food prices have been consistently higher in the first six months of this year than they were towards the end of 2020.
Footballer Marcus Rashford MBE is today launching a new campaign encouraging people across the UK to write to their MP to support three major recommendations in the National Food Strategy to help alleviate the increase of food insecurity being experienced by households with children.
Marcus is asking members of the public to visit endchildfoodpoverty.org/write-now and follow simple steps to write to your MP ahead of the Government Spending Review expected in October.
What are the recommendations?
The three recommendations Marcus is supporting, part of Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy, will guarantee that every child at risk of going hungry gets some good food every day.
They are: to expand Free School Meal eligibility to all children aged 7-18 in all households earning £20,000 or less after benefits, and to children that are undocumented or living in households with the NRPF immigration condition; to provide long-term funding for the Holiday Activities and Food Programme, increasing eligibility in line with Free School Meal expansion; and to expand Healthy Start eligibility to all households earning £20,000 or less after benefits with pregnant women or children under five and invest in a communications campaign to increase awareness and uptake of the scheme.
Marcus is today calling on government to urgently support the recommendations and include the funds needed in the Spending Review expected in October.
‘What is it going to take for these children to be prioritised?’
“Whilst we’ve come a long way in the last 20 months, placing the issue of child food poverty at the forefront, devastatingly, the issue is getting worse not better,” said Marcus.
“The entire nation got behind the national team this Summer so let’s put these figures in football terms…
“You can fill 27 Wembley stadiums with the 2.5 million children that are struggling to know where their next meal might be coming from today.
“What is it going to take for these children to be prioritised?
“Instead of removing support through social security, we should be focusing efforts on developing a sustainable long-term roadmap out of this child hunger pandemic.
“I am, today, pledging my support for three recommendations from Part 2 of the National Food Strategy.
“I hope that we see the required investment pledged during the Autumn Spending Review.
“I will be writing to my MP about it, and I would encourage you all to do the same.
“It will take many of us to stand together on this, and show we care about reaching those most in need in our communities.”
‘The people in power have the chance to fix this’
Young Food Ambassador Asha, 15, said it’s easy to see from the statistics that child food poverty is a problem – but you don’t truly understand how it feels unless you’ve experienced food poverty yourself.
“It’s shame, it’s worry, it’s having to pretend you’ve had enough to eat when really you’ve skipped lunch,” said Asha.
“It’s struggling to keep up in class, it’s hunger pangs when you go to bed, it’s watching your parents work all hours to try and pay the bills.
“The people in power have the chance to fix this – making sure every hungry child gets some food everyday shouldn’t be something we need to fight for.
“To me, it’s obvious this is needed and I’m just 15.
“I’m really pleased Marcus and the public are going to help children like me by writing to their MPs.
“Every young person should do this too and have the chance to make their voices heard #WriteNow.”
You can find out more and write to your MP at endchildfoodpoverty.org/write-now.