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Food Poverty in Shropshire

Food poverty is an issue affecting many people in Shropshire


Families and individuals are being financially squeezed as a result of increases in the cost of living combined with low wage increases and the cumulative impact of welfare reforms. People in work and out of work are affected. Food poverty is an issue which affects all ages but there are particular concerns for the youngest and oldest in society, and people who cannot work due to disability or long-term sickness.​


​Food poverty levels in Shropshire are rising


  • Food banks across the county are reporting an increase in referrals

  • 81% of respondents to our survey felt that food poverty has increased in the last year

  • Citizens Advice Shropshire estimate that 27,000 families in the county will have their food budgets reduced due to changes to the benefits system

“I can't afford healthy food like fruit and vegetables, it breaks my heart because I want to be a good mother”


(Survey response from female 35-44 Market Drayton)

“Many of our children struggle with learning as they are hungry or have had inappropriate breakfast that doesn't fill them up or is too high in sugar. This can affect concentration, days off due to illness, toothache and all of these factors impact on learning, attainment and can also affect behaviour.”


(Shropshire primary school)


What is Food Poverty?


Food Poverty can be defined as “the inability of individuals and households to obtain an adequate and nutritious diet because they cannot afford healthy food”. It can be temporary (crisis) or can last for long periods of time (chronic food poverty).

There is currently no national measurement of how many people are in food poverty, but UN research suggests that 4.2% of the UK population is in severe food insecurity, the second highest level in Europe.

Measurements of poverty across the UK provide an indication of the scale of the problem.

After working full time all of his adult life, Mark had a stroke in his 40s. Whilst waiting for his benefits claims to be sorted out he has built up a number of debts. He is concerned about the recent change to council tax in Shropshire, meaning that he will need to pay £5.50 towards his council tax. He says “to me £5.50 is eggs, bread, milk, potatoes. Now they want to take that out of my pocket, and I’ve not paid it, I’m not going to pay it.”

  • 1 in 5 children in Shropshire are classified as living in poverty 

  • A quarter of people living in the West Midlands live in poverty, and in 60% of cases they have been in this situation for more than two years

  • Over half of all lone parent households are living in poverty 

  • Nearly half of all people affected by poverty in the UK are living in households with a disabled person  

What causes Food Poverty?

The causes of food poverty are complex. For people with low financial resilience an unexpected life event can quickly spiral into financial crisis and food poverty. In in many cases food poverty is caused by a combination of factors, including:

Financial issues

low incomes

benefit delays

Access to food

rural living

distance to shops

transport issues

Lack of knowledge

healthy diet

cooking skills

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