Children's Food Insecurity: Understanding the Problem

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Why is this? 

Low wages

70% of children living in poverty have at least one parent in work.  

Low welfare support

Benefits don’t always cover the cost of food. 38% of families on Universal Credit and Child Tax Credit have to rely on help from charities for food and clothes.

 

High food costs

The poorest 10% of UK households would need to spend 74% of their disposable income on food to meet the recommended nutritional guidelines. This is compared to only 6% in the richest 10%

 

Long Term Impacts on Children's Health

There is a direct link between poverty and health outcomes. Unhealthy foods are often cheaper and more accessible which can have a serious impact on long term health

  • Unhealthy foods are x3 cheaper than healthy foods, calorie for calorie  

  • Obesity rates are double among poorer children 

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Impacts on Children's Learning and Development

Only those on the lowest of incomes can get free school meals – household income must be less than £7400 if claiming Universal Credit. 

Children eligible for free school meals have lower attainment - in Shropshire those who had been eligible for free school meals some time in the past six years are 20.9 months behind academically on average by the time they reached the age of 16 .

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by free school meals

 

Holiday Hunger

Families also particularly struggle with ‘holiday hunger’ - being unable to meet the costs of feeding their whole family outside of termtime.  

  • Over 6 out of 10 parents with household incomes of less than £25,000 said they weren’t always able to afford to buy food outside of term time. This rose to 73% of parents on less than £15,000. (Kelloggs)

  • A third of parents have skipped a meal so their kids could eat during the holidays. (Kelloggs)

Image by Ekaterina Shakharova

   Healthy Start

In Shropshire, less than half of those eligible are using these government issued vouchers for low income families to be spent on fruit, vegetables and milk.

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Free School Meals

  • There are over 4000 children on free school meals in Shropshire.

  • Only those on the lowest incomes are eligible, meaning many children in poverty still miss out.

  • Shropshire Council has provided support to families in the county during October half term and Christmas 2020. 

Image by CDC

Breakfast Clubs

In Shropshire there are hardly any schools or community groups which provide children with a free breakfast before school or during the holidays.