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What do we mean by food insecurity and how does it impact children?

Our latest research has found that there are high levels of concern in Shropshire around children’s food insecurity. But what do we mean when we talk about food insecurity and why is it an important issue?

What do we mean by food insecurity?

The Food Standards Agency defines food insecurity as: “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways”.

The Food Foundation’s report, A Crisis Within a Crisis: The Impact of Covid-19 on Household Food Security shows that before the pandemic there was a rising trend of household food insecurity and that despite vital emergency measures in place, more people are food insecure now than before the pandemic. In January 2021, 12% of households with children (equivalent to 2.3 million children and 1.3 million adults living with them) had experienced food insecurity in the past 6 months and over 200,000 children have had to skip meals because their family couldn’t access sufficient food during lockdown.

What is the impact of food insecurity on children?

Living without reliable access to nutritious food impacts on every aspect of a child’s life. Children who are living in food insecure families are more likely to suffer from lower educational attainment, an increased risk of chronic health conditions such as asthma, as well as anxiety and stress. Department for Education data demonstrates the impact disadvantage has on educational attainment. The 2019 GCSE data shows of the 143,000 pupils classed as disadvantaged (defined as having been eligible for Free School Meals within the five years before sitting GCSEs or if they have been in care or adopted from care) just 456 achieved top grade 9s in English and maths, compared with 6,132 out of 398,000 other pupils. Hunger in childhood has been linked to depression and suicidal episodes in teenagers. Poor nutrition also has an impact across generations. Mothers who are lacking in iron are more likely to have children born with low birth weight. Low birth weights have been linked to higher rates of developmental problems, child mortality, high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary artery disease and obesity.

Get involved

Join us for our online workshop in October. It will be a chance to hear from community groups and organisations working to improve children’s access to healthy, affordable food across Shropshire. It will be a chance to celebrate achievements, learn from each other and identify priority areas of work as we look forward to how we can build back fairer in response to the Covid crisis.

Children’s Food Insecurity in Shropshire: Working Together to Find Solutions

Wednesday 6th October, 4pm- 5.30pm

Book your free ticket here.


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