Hunger in the UK
When discussing hunger as a global challenge, we usually relate the topic to continents such as Africa, Asia and even some parts of south America. Since the focus is heavily directed to those continents, society tends to forget that the more developed countries also struggle with hunger. In this text I will put more light on the forgotten countries, or to be more direct, the UK. My text will be based on one simple question. Why does a country such as the UK, a developed and economically stable country struggle with hunger? I chose this topic because I wanted to shed some light on the country we tend to forget when talking about global issues. I will split the text into paragraphs in which I will discuss reasons to why the UK struggles with hunger. Before my conclusion I will list some measures that can be put into action to improve the situation. Finally, each paragraph will answer my question vaguely, leading up to my conclusion in which I will sum up my answers into one final answer.
Firstly i would like to give an insight into the numbers we are dealing with when talking about hunger insecurity in the UK. The trussel trust is an orginazation based in the UK with the aim of ending hunger and poverty. The picture on the right is a statistacal analaysis of three-day emergancy food packages distrubuted by The Trussel Trust.(The Trussel Trust, 2018) The increase from 2015-2016 to 2016-2017 is an absurd 13%. 1 in 6 adults skip a meal beause they cannot aford it, furthermore 1 in 12 adults have gone a whole day without food. These numbers may not seem worrying when comparing them to the statistics seen in Africa, but they are still concerning.
To start things of, the first reason and most likely the most important reason to hunger insecurity in the UK, and this may not come as a shock to anybody, is poverty. Research done by the SMC ( Social Metric Commission) shows that in the year 2016/17 14.2 million people in the UK lived in poverty. (Joseph O’Learys, Social Metric Commision, 2018). A third of this number being children. Since money is the key to aproximatley everything on earth, it goes without saying that if you do not have money, you will most likely live in hunger. That being said we can say that poverty is a primary driver for hunger. With low incomes and rising living cost, money may be difficult for some people in the UK. Although money is a huge factor in poverty, we must not forget climate issues alongside robberies, taxes and the benefit system. These are all reasons which may lead to poverty, and furthermore hunger.
Food waste is a problem which keeps growing and that people have to decrease. Let me give you an example. If a family buys ten apples, but only eats eight of the apples they have bought, that would result in a 20% waste. Imagine if an entire country wastes 20% of their food every year. The amount of food wasted in the UK is tremendous. Instead of throwing food away when they have not even expired, the better option may be to give it away. Although experation dates may scare some people, the date only tells the consumer when the food or drink is not as fresh. As a matter of fact, foods and drinks stays edible longer than what is written on the packaging. WRAP is an orginazation with the vision of using resources sustainably.
Data posted from WRAP in 2018 shows us that the amount of wasted food in the UK mesueared in tons is 10.2 million. Also, the amount of household food wasted was 7.1 million tons. When you hear the fact that 5 million tons of the wasted foods were edible you might begin to wonder. (Ian Palmer, WRAP, 2018) Imagine if all that wasted and edible food was distrubuted to homeless people, shelters and families in need. The UK must decrease their food waste resulting in more food for the people in need.
Food prices being high in the UK is a major reason for hunger insecurity. It goes without saying that food prices and poverty relate. If you are poor you may not afford food, since the food prices in the UK is high many people below the poverty line struggle to eat well. Data from shows us that the budget for monthly recommended amount of money for food per person is 172.57 £. (Numbeo, 2019) Taking this amount into consideration, many people can not afford it which results in higher food insecurity rates. With that being said, it can safely be concluded that high food prices result in hunger insecurity.
Cafeteria food in school
Children get one hot meal each day at school, take this away and food insecurity increases. A few months ago I came across a tv show which talked about problems in the UK. (Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty, Channel 4, 2017) One of the episodes was about food insecurity. They said that in the holidays when children do not attend school, they also miss out on the free hot meal. This meal is an economically helpful meal for families with low income. Instead of spending money on three meals each day, parents only had to spend money on to meals. Although that sounds brilliant, on holidays the children who are in need of this meal, will not get it, because the cafeteria is not open. Jimmy and Jamie fought to prevent the cafetriasa from closing on holidays. The UK can afford this, it is benefitiall for not only the children but the families in need and it helps decrease the food insecurity. Closing cafeterias will increase food insecurity amongs children.
Whenever there is a problem, there is also a solution. Inspite of the many problems with food insecurity there are measures which can decrease the rate at which the UK suffers from. Some of these are as follows:
- Keep cafeterias open in the holidays
- Decrease the waste of food
- Factories can sell food that are not store quality for cheaper
- Food prices can be lowered
- More support from the government
- Safeguarding child nutrition every day of the year (Oxfam, Views and voices, 2017)
- Effective finacial assitance in times of crisis (Oxfam, Views and voices, 2017)
Food insecurity is a growing problem in the UK. There are many reasons for food insecurity, the major reason being poverty. Alongside poverty comes other reasons such as food prices, food waste and government support, or cafeterias being open In the holidays. These are reasons which can be improved upon by simple but yet effective measures, if taken seriousley by the government in the UK. Some of these are measures like food prices being lowered or decreasing the waste of food. If hunger in the UK does not decrease in the near future, the numbers may grow exponentioally higher.
- Ian Palmer, WRAP, (2018) WRAP restates UK food figures to support united global action, accessed at June 2, 2019 at: http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/wrap-restates-uk-food-waste-figures-support-united-global-action
- Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty, Channel 4, (2017) Series 4, episode 3, accessed June 1, 2019 at: https://www.channel4.com/programmes/jamie-and-jimmys-friday-night-feast/on-demand/63962-003
- Numbeo, (2019) Food prices in united kingdom, accessed June 1, 2019 at: https://www.numbeo.com/food-prices/country_result.jsp?country=United+Kingdom
- Oxfam, Views and voices, (2017) Nine steps to end food poverty in the UK. Accessed June 2, 2019 at: https://views-voices.oxfam.org.uk/2017/12/nine-steps-to-end-food-poverty-in-the-uk/
- Joseph O’Leary, Social Metric Commision, (2018) Poverty in the UK: a guide to the facts and figures, accessed June 1, 2019 at: https://fullfact.org/economy/poverty-uk-guide-facts-and-figures/
- The Trussel Trust, (2018), The Trussel Trust; “Benefit levels must keep pace with rising cost of essentials” As record increase in foodbank figures is revealed, accessed at June 1, 2019 at: https://www.trusselltrust.org/2018/04/24/benefit-levels-must-keep-pace-rising-cost-essentials-record-increase-foodbank-figures-revealed/