Behind hungry children are hungry parents. We know that typically parents feed their children before they feed themselves in the UK. We also know that households that are most likely to be food insecure tend to live in areas where others are also struggling. While enough money to purchase food is important, it isn’t enough. We need solutions that address the immediate need but also solutions that work toward a longer term, socially just resilience.
I was recently invited to participate in a webinar on children’s food insecurity. It was attended by more than 300 people from across industry, policy, community, health, and academic sectors. It was organised by Bernadette Moore and Charlotte Evans of the N8 Food Systems Policy Hub.
Everyday food insecurity is more than just a lack of access to food based on income. Poverty creates a hole that has emotional and nutritional effects, as well as implications for community cohesion. Food insecurity as it intersects with poverty also materialises in places to produce landscapes where food availability and the social connections it enables are scarce (for an open-access paper see Blake 2019). Poor foodscapes contribute to vulnerabilities to the shocks associated with limited food choices, which in turn reduces the resilience of places and people by producing want, poor health, social isolation, and fear and distrust of one’s neighbours. The Food Ladders approach seeks to overcome these place-based aspects of vulnerability by developing positive engagements through food and ultimately aims to help communities become the places where people want to live, raise their children, and grow old. Continue reading →
While Food Poverty is a popular term within the food charity sector in the UK, is it really what you want to be doing? Is it, in fact, everyday food insecurity that you seek to support? Continue reading →
There have been a number of arguments in the press and on social media arguing that the use of surplus food to feed food insecure people is at best only a short-term solution and at worst harmful (e.g., Caraher 2017). I would agree that the hunger that is caused by poverty is not only not being addressed by the UK government (see Blake 2015, and a more recent update of the article published by GMPA) but in some cases is being enhanced by current government policy (e.g., a benefits system that has built in delays, draconian sanctions, programme cuts that impact on the most vulnerable). In reading the argument, however, a number of issues stand out as needing further clarification and interrogation. Firstly, there is a lack of understanding about food surplus in terms of what it is. Secondly, there is misconception about how food surplus becomes food for bellies as it travels through the charity sector. Thirdly, there is an overly narrow understanding of the value of surplus food both for charities and those whom they support. These issues are explored in this blog post. Continue reading →
If you look through the door of my pantry you will see a window into my world. My pantry expresses my likes and dislikes and my cultural background by the presence and absence of certain goods. You will also see that in my house, we are not hungry. I have been hungry in the past. I plan against this by stocking up for the possibility that there might come a day when I might not have money. It isn’t an entirely rational approach to domestic food provisioning as it is a practice that produces waste. But, I always know where my next meal is coming from. And I also know I am lucky to be able to be so potentially wasteful. My household budget is shaped by my past experience of hunger. I am sure I am not alone, but for some reason hunger is not a fashionable term these days. What is that all about?