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Food banks and food waste

Posted on 19 July 2013 .
Tags: Health Survey for England, The Trussell Trust, food banks, food poverty

Food poverty is typically associated with developing countries, so you could be forgiven for thinking that the Tesco food collection points up and down the country last weekend were collecting donations for elsewhere. In fact, the appeal came from FareShare and The Trussell Trust and was for vulnerable people in the UK.

At the close of 2012, Britain recovered its position as the 6th largest economy in the world. Yet, it is estimated that 5.8 million people in the UK are living in deep poverty, meaning that they struggle to afford the essential items required to live a healthy life; including food. In the wake of these figures, charitable organisations are developing initiatives – like food collection points – to provide nutritious food for those struggling on low incomes. Moreover, with estimates from FareShare that 3 million tonnes of fit-for-purpose food is wasted each year, grocers and supermarkets are increasingly aware of their role in tackling food poverty.

But it’s hard to believe that some people are going without, particularly when you look to the other end of the spectrum; obesity hit an all-time high in 2011. Our Health Survey for England data shows that around a quarter of adults are now classified as obese. What’s more is that obesity in developed countries has become such a widespread problem that the American Medical Association has classified it as a disease.

At the beginning of the year Health Minister Anna Soubry made contentious allegations that poorer children were more likely to be obese, suggesting less money doesn’t mean less on your plate, and emphasising a need for further research in this area. In addition, campaigns such as Enough Food For Everyone IF stress that enough food is produced to feed everyone in the world, let alone in the UK. So why has FareShare seen an increase of 26% in the number of charities receiving surplus food from them? And why are over 43,000 people accessing this food every day?

We’re working with FareShare - a charity that redistributes surplus food from the food industry to frontline charities - to look into the value and impact of their work in addressing food poverty. We want to assess how well they’re helping people who benefit from their services, and vitally, why people turn to FareShare’s recipient charities to access good food. We’re currently speaking to people who receive FareShare food and who work in partnership with FareShare. Findings from our initial study will be available towards the end of the year, so watch this space!

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