what are the issues?
People need access to cheap and healthy food. Squeezing your food budget often means choosing food which is filling rather than nutritious
Many people living in poverty do not have a car and cuts to public transport, particularly in rural areas, makes it difficult for families to access cheaper supermarkets
Smaller towns and villages have limited food outlets. Food is often sold at a premium rate with few healthy options
Long term decent housing is essential to prevent food poverty
Homeless people and those living in emergency accommodation often do not have access to basic cooking facilities and equipment
When people have long term tenure they can commit to purchasing essential white goods and have the confidence to stock up their cupboards with staple ingredients
Sixteen percent of households in Shropshire are in fuel poverty, the fourth highest rate in England
It is a particular issue for people living in rural areas, especially if houses are heated by oil or wood
Energy costs also impact on storing and preparing food
skills & knowledge
People on low incomes need skills & knowledge to avoid falling into food poverty. They need to know:
their employment rights and what benefits they may be entitled to. Just 64% of eligible families in Shropshire claim their Healthy Start Vouchers
how to manage their household budget and what help is available to those on low incomes
how to cook with cheap and healthy ingredients
closure of services
People in food crisis often need support and advice to improve their situation
But many services in Shropshire have been impacted by austerity measures - with cuts to mental health, health visitors, Citizen's Advice Shropshire and many more
Rural areas have been further hit by the closure of essential facilities such as libraries, banks and cash machines
Many people in food poverty do not have strong support networks around them. Life events such as relationship breakdown and homelessness can mean that people break ties with friends and family
Transport costs are a barrier to maintaining supportive relationships
Sarah lives in Wem and finds the Co-op expensive. She would like to shop at Farm foods, but cannot afford the bus fare into Shrewsbury. She contacted Iceland to see if they would deliver, but they told her they do not cover the Wem area.
“Where would you go for help? I guess the job centre, as CAB has closed down. That’s the problem with this town is that everything seems to close down."
(Interviewee from Whitchurch)
Dave and his partner live in Ludlow but have family 19 miles away in Bridgnorth. There is no direct bus, meaning they would have to change in Shrewsbury or Kidderminster, a round trip of nearly five hours.
“When I’m buying food I don’t just think what can I have with that? I think well how long is that going to take to cook?” (Female, 55-64, Wem)
Living in a house share, Peter keeps his food in his bedroom so that it isn’t eaten by his 6 housemates. Unable to use the fridge or freezer, he relies on tinned and packaged foods, which he separates out into weekly piles. He tries to make the food last the month, but he says “sometimes you get to the stage where you are just really, really hungry and you’ve got to eat”. As the month goes on he just eats less. This month he has been unable to find any work. “I’ve been trying to portion my food, but it got down to a tin of soup a day. It got to be a struggle”. He came into the food bank on a Friday morning, but had not eaten since Tuesday.