Britain on the Breadline - Government to tackle Hidden Hunger epidemic in the UK

Britain on the Breadline - Government to tackle Hidden Hunger epidemic in the UK

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Francesca Tabor started this petition to Justine Greening (Conservatives)

1. GOVERNMENT MUST MEASURE HUNGER

Shocking figures released by End Hunger UK today gives us a glimpse of the extent of hidden hunger in the UK. Government should continue to measure food poverty, to provide transparency into the issue of hidden hunger.

16% of adults either skipping or seeing someone in their household skipping meals
14% worrying about not having enough food to eat, and 8% going a whole day without eating because of lack of money in the last 12 months.
People are seeing higher food bills, with 59% of adults seeing their groceries costing more in the last three months compared with the same period before.

Source: http://endhungeruk.org/shocking-figures-showing-hidden-hunger-show-need-find/

2. BENEFITS SHOULD BE PAID ON A WEEKLY BASIS

Since 2013 Universal Credit has been slowly introduced to job centres around the country is the government’s new way pay benefits replacing six different benefits including - Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Employment & Support Allowance (ESA), Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits, Income Support & Housing Benefit. It’s a once a month payment a very different way from how people are used to doing things and there are some concerns that it’s causing people to go hungry.

We wanted to find out for ourselves so we spent a couple of days at the Trussel Trust Foodbank in Wandsworth Borough. Whenever the food bank receives a food referral, the beneficiary is asked to go through a questionnaire, which diagnoses the cause for their emergency food package. For the fifth year running, benefit problems such as delay, change and sanction were the most common causes of food bank referral (41%). This was followed by low income form work or benefits (27%), debt (9%) and No Recourse to Public Funds (5%).

Previously benefits would be paid on a fought nightly basis. This made it easier for beneficiaries to budget and manage their money. However, now benefits are paid on a monthly basis, which makes it impossible to buy fresh food to last a month, this includes:- bread, milk and fresh produce.

3. GOVERNMENT SHOULD ABOLISH THE REFERRAL SYSTEM

People in need can get emergency food packages from independent local food banks without a referral. However the conservative government, worried about a ‘culture of dependency’ on food banks, have implemented a referral system, whereby claimants first have to book an appointment with a GP and get a voucher before being approved. This is essentially the opposite of what is known as UX, a term in technology which is used to described the simplicity and ease of a process so that the customer can get to their end goal as quickly as possible. Instead government are deliberately making this process painful, long, complicated and frustrating. On top of that they are wasting NHS doctors precious time.

The solution is simple, to abolish this referral system and to use technology (with good UX!) to sign up the person in need determine whether the named person is eligible to emergency food support direct the person to their local food bank
provide measurable statistics on food hunger in the UK. 

To tackle this feared ‘culture of dependency’ government could require claimants to earn their emergency food packages by volunteering at the food bank. Jobs could include the collection of food, sorting food or looking after the premise. This would empower people who often feel hopeless & powerless. 

4. GOVERNMENT MUST PRIORITISE SINGLE MOTHERS WITH CHILDREN

I was shocked to speak to one lady who was a single mother, with two children. The minimal emergency food support meant she barely had enough food to feed the kids, let alone herself. This meant she often had to go without, not eating for up to two days, leading to nausea, a lower immune system and sickness.

According to a poll commissioned by the Young Women’s Trust - 46% of mothers in the UK aged under 25 do not eat proper meals in order to ensure their children are fed, while more than a quarter have used food banks.

Source:  https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/uk-food-poverty-half-young-mothers-mums-skip-meals-feed-children-struggle-research-young-women-s-a7652361.html

5. GOVERNMENT MUST FUND FOOD HUBS & DISTRIBUTION CENTRES', WHICH WILL ALLOW THE DISTRIBUTION OF FRESH PRODUCE

Urban areas are difficult for someone who wants to maintain a fresh diet. The main reason is money: fresh vegetables and fruits are expensive, because the produce has to be shipped and you end up paying for the delivery cost more than for the quality of the product itself.

However, a study of 70 independent food banks handed to The Independent found many struggling to store and distribute fresh produce, forcing suppliers to only hand out dried, tinned or powdered produce.

Having worked as a food technologist at HelloFresh, I am fully aware of the lengths companies must go to ensure that food that reaches the end consumer is safe to eat - this includes hygienic, cold warehouse facilities. However often food banks operate from churches and community centres and use volunteers, who are not trained in food safety, as a result offering fresh produce is not an option. 

Government should therefore fund specialised food bank distribution centres, where food is collected, sorted and distributed to people in need; separate from any religious institution. 

Feeding America’s new strategy has entailed building out regional produce cooperatives to which farmers could bring their surplus crops, essentially creating a physical link between growers and the hunger-relief nonprofit. 

Source: https://www.fastcompany.com/40498700/food-banks-massive-plan-to-move-from-canned-goods-to-fresh-produce

5. GOVERNMENT MUST FORCE SUPERMARKETS & FARMS TO SIGN CONTRACTS WITH FOOD CHARITIES

Since the Feeding Britain report stated that their ‘anger knows no bounds’ at the destruction of 4.3million tonnes of edible food deemed ‘surplus’ by the UK food industry, calls for supermarkets to give leftover food to foodbanks have become increasingly common. Bad publicity and consumer outrage can often be catalyst for change, however to create sustained, long-term change government is needed in order to put in place stricter measures like in France, where supermarket have been barred from deliberately spoiling food in order to stop it being eaten by people foraging in stores’ bins; and sign donation contracts with charities or face a penalty of €3,750 (£2,900).

Source:  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/04/french-law-forbids-food-waste-by-supermarkets

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