Government response to food strategy released and worrying new data from the Food Standards Agency
Many were disappointed to see bolder action was not taken in the government’s white paper response to the national food strategy. Many of the recommendations to reduce diet related inequality, including expanding the eligibility of Free School Meals and the Healthy Start scheme were not taken on board. This against the back drop of new data from the Food Standards Agency showing that almost one in four consumers (22%) now report skipping a meal, or cutting the size of meals, because they did not have enough money to buy food – this has risen steadily since June 2021, paint a worrying picture. Reported food bank usage has also steadily increased since June 2021 (9%), with 15% saying they used a foodbank in March 2022. 42% of people reported being concerned about food prices.
This newsletter contains information on the work going on at a local level to support people, as well as collective calls for more action from central government.
38 Shropshire communities and organisations use their collect voice on the cost-of-living crisis
Key organisations and community leaders from across Shropshire have come together to use their collective voice to call for more long-term, strategic intervention for the most vulnerable. In a joint open letter, 38 organisations and communities express their concern over the scale and depth of a crisis and push back at some of the unhelpful narratives that are often levelled against those on lower incomes. The letter explains how local support services are doing all they can to help people but that it is a system under strain that will not be able to meet the unprecedented levels of demand that they are seeing.
The letter has been published in the Shropshire Star and sent to MPs. We have also written a blog post for the Independent Food Aid Network on the importance of using collective local voices to call for change. We still welcome any organisation or community group that would like to add their name to the list of signatories, contact SophiePadgett@cabshropshire.org.uk. This letter is a joint resource that all are welcome to use when engaging in conversations with decision makers and people of influence.
New Healthy Start comms materials available
We have been working closely with Shropshire Council’s Public Health Team and the Trussell Trust to produce some new comms materials for the Healthy Start scheme. We have two posters available, one for individuals and one for frontline professionals. You can download both of them from the Shropshire Larder website.
Training for HAF providers on running an inclusive holiday provision
We were pleased to be able to run a training session for providers of the Holiday Activities and Food Programme on how to make sure holiday provision avoids stigma and is as inclusive as possible. It was great to meet projects from across the county doing really exciting work around food and to be able to learn from one and other. If you would be interested in receiving the slides used for the training session, or finding out more around stigma and free school meals please contact SophiePadgett@cabshropshire.org.uk.
APPG on ending the need for food banks/ the impact on the cost-of-living crisis on school meals
We have submitted evidence to the APPG on ending the need for food banks. Many thanks to the food aid providers who shared their insights and expertise. We will keep you posted with the progress on the enquiry. There is also currently a call for evidence for an APPG on the impact that the cost-of-living crisis is having on school meals. If you are interested in submitting evidence you can complete this short survey (no more than 10 minutes). All responses to the survey will be anonymised in the report. Deadline 22 July 2022.
Support for families over the summer holidays
The Council will providing education settings with financial support with food costs for vulnerable children for 3 weeks of the summer holidays. The funding equates to £45 per child (£3 per day, 5 days per week, for 3 weeks). It is being funded through the Household Support Fund. The reason they are unable to fund 6 weeks as they did last summer is due to the new restrictions placed on how they must allocate the funding. The vast majority of schools use the Edenred platform which enables them to email the £45 to families to use at their chosen supermarket that accept the Edenred vouchers. There is also support available to families through the Holiday Activities and Food programme. Families struggling to afford essentials may also be able to get support via the Welfare Support Team who can be contacted on 0345 678 9078.
£150 council tax rebate
The £150 council tax energy rebate continues to be processed by Shropshire Council. For those who do not have a Direct Debit relationship with the council, application letters have been sent out in batches and letters continue to be issued. Any deadline dates should be clearly set out in the contents of the letter. Residents who do not apply by their set deadline will have the £150 credited to their Council Tax account. If you have any questions surrounding the rebate, there is a designated Mailbox:Energy.Rebate@shropshire.gov.uk which is monitored daily and their webpages are regularly updated at: Energy bills rebate FAQs | Shropshire Council
Telford food project in race against time to find new home
Telford's Food Share Project is desperately looking for a new venue as it faces a deadline to vacate its present base. Read the full article here.