A new book examined responses to domestic hunger and income poverty in twelve countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Estonia, Finland, Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
Source: Graham Riches and Tiina Silvasti (eds), First World Hunger Revisited: Food charity or the right to food?, Palgrave Macmillan
A paper estimated that over 20 million meals were given to people in food poverty in 2013-14 by the three main food aid providers in the United Kingdom, representing a 54 per cent increase on 2012-13. The paper said that changes in the social security system, a more punitive sanctions regime, unemployment or poor quality work, and rising living costs were contributing to a rise in food poverty, and that increasing numbers of people were turning to food banks for help. The paper called for: changes to the social security system (including changes in the use of sanctions, and the reinstatement of crisis loans); systematic independent research on the need for, and use of, food banks; a review of the impact of zero-hours contracts; and for the United Kingdom minimum wage to be increased to a living wage by 2020.
Source: Niall Cooper, Sarah Purcell, and Ruth Jackson, Below the Breadline: The relentless rise of food poverty in Britain, Oxfam/Church Action on Poverty/The Trussell Trust
A report by a committee of MSPs said that, although the United Kingdom government's Department for Work and Pensions said there was no direct link between the increase in use of food banks in Scotland and welfare reform, the Committee was convinced by the volume and strength of evidence it received that there was a direct correlation. It said that benefit sanctions were one of the key components of welfare reform that had led to an increase in need. The Committee praised the work of food banks, but said that they should not became part of the welfare infrastructure. It called on the United Kingdom government to recognize the impact of policy, and supported the Scottish government's Emergency Food Aid Action Plan.
Source: Food Banks and Welfare Reform, 2nd Report 2014, SP Paper 537, Scottish Parliament Welfare Reform Committee Committee
An article examined socio-economic inequalities in health-related consumption patterns. Lower-income groups generally purchased a greater proportion of energy from less healthy foods and beverages than those in higher-income groups. At the nutrient-level, socio-economic differences were less marked.
Source: Rachel Pechey, Susan Jebb, Michael Kelly, Eva Almiron-Roig, Susana Conde, Ryota Nakamura, Ian Shemilt, Marc Suhrcke, and Theresa Marteau, 'Socioeconomic differences in purchases of more vs. less healthy foods and beverages: analysis of over 25,000 British households in 2010', Social Science & Medicine, Volume 92
A report provided the findings from a government-funded study of the use of food aid in the United Kingdom. It said that households employed multiple strategies to try and cope with food insecurity, and that turning to food aid was a strategy of last resort. The review had found a lack of systematic evidence on the merits of different types of food aid, the amount of provision in the United Kingdom, or alternative methods of addressing food insecurity, but providers such as food banks had reported an increase in demand from new and returning users. The report said that food aid provided short-term relief but had a limited impact on overall household food security status.
Source: Hannah Lambie-Mumford, Dan Crossley, Eric Jensen, Monae Verbeke, and Elizabeth Dowler, Household Food Security in the UK: A review of food aid, Food Ethics Council/University of Warwick
An article discussed the evaluation of Healthy Start, a targeted United Kingdom food subsidy programme that gave vouchers for fruit, vegetables, milk, and vitamins to low-income families. It said that vouchers had increased the quantity and range of fruit and vegetables used and improved the quality of family diets, and that this was reported to have established good habits for the future. The study had found barriers to scheme registration and use of the vouchers. The article outlined a range of issues that could compromise the success of such programmes.
Source: Alison McFadden, Josephine Green, Victoria Williams, Jenny McLeish, Felicia McCormick, Julia Fox-Rushby, and Mary Renfrew, 'Can food vouchers improve nutrition and reduce health inequalities in low-income mothers and young children: a multi-method evaluation of the experiences of beneficiaries and practitioners of the Healthy Start programme in England', BMC Public Health, Volume 14
An article examined how residents of deprived neighbourhoods shopped for food, and how the supermarket environment influenced their choices.
Source: Claire Thompson, Steven Cummins, Tim Brown, and Rosemary Kyle, 'Understanding interactions with the food environment: an exploration of supermarket food shopping routines in deprived neighbourhoods', Health and Place, Volume 19
The First Minister announced that free school meals would be available to all children in the first three years of primary school in Scotland, by January 2015. Also, free childcare places would become available for more families in receipt of a range of benefits, if Scotland became independent following the vote in September 2014.
Source: Scottish Parliament Debate 7 January 2014, columns 26122-23, Official Report, TSO
A study examined the nature and use of food banks in Scotland. It said that levels of use had risen and that welfare reform, benefit delays, benefit sanctions, and falling incomes had been the main factors behind increased demand for food aid. The report made recommendations.
Source: Filip Sosenko, Nicola Livingstone, and Suzanne Fitzpatrick, Overview of Food Aid Provision in Scotland, Scottish Government