For our Impact of Food Poverty Project we asked the Felix Project their views on how food poverty and waste can be tackled. Find out what they’re doing in this guest blog post.
Children’s Food Initiatives
At the Felix Project we have twin objectives; to reduce the scandalous levels of food waste and to address the equally concerning levels of hunger and food poverty. Increasingly, we are working with partner charities and schools and turning our attention to child food poverty.
Child Food Poverty in the UK
The latest statistics show us that one in three (4.1 million) children live in poverty in the UK, with an estimated 2.5 million living in food insecure households, and City Hall tells us that over 600,000 of them live in London. Despite record employment, the proportion of children in poverty with working parents has now reached an all-time high of 72%. Two decades ago that was barely half. (Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 29/3/19).
Launched recently by the Food Foundation this inquiry explains that “food insecurity carries a huge human cost which children are likely to bear for the rest of their lives, affecting their relationships, attainment, mental and physical health. This scale of problem requires systemic action, not sticking plaster projects”
Data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey show that the children in the poorest households are eating substantially less fruit and vegetables, with a shocking 0.3% of the most deprived children eating the recommended amount of fresh fruit and vegetables versus 8.4% of all children. Witnesses told the Inquiry that avoiding food waste was a top priority for low income families and so this means parents frequently stick to a narrow range of food which they know their children will eat. Moreover, they reported that parents often prioritised their children’s food consumption over their own and reported having a smaller portion or skipping meals altogether so their children could eat.
The rising tide of child obesity in the lowest income families is also strongly linked to food poverty. In England 12% of 4-5-year olds in deprived families are obese. As the Food Foundation say “Food insecurity carries a huge human cost which children are likely to bear for the rest of their lives, affecting their relationships, attainment, mental and physical health”
What is The Felix project doing about Child Food Poverty?
Each week we deliver free food to 24 charities that specifically supply food to children and another 44 charities which support children as part of family groups or as part of a wider group of members. The Felix Project also delivers to 62 primary schools each week, where healthy food is made available to pupils and their parents on a market stall.
Many of the children in deprived areas also suffer what is known as “holiday hunger” which is something experienced during the school holidays when the absence of free school meals is compounded by the need to pay childcare costs. Being aware that this is an increasing problem, we make sure that the food we deliver to schools during term time is delivered to charities, community centres and youth clubs who provide activities for children over the holidays.
By the end of 2019, we aim to be delivering to 120 primary schools, and during the school holidays, the food that would be delivered to schools will go to organisations who provide activities for children over the holidays. This will help ensure that children in deprived areas have access to good nutritious food on a year-round basis.
Cooking, Nutrition and education
All of our deliveries, to both schools and youth charities include fresh fruit and veg – all highly nutritious, visually delightful, and delicious. Many of our charities and schools go the extra mile, helping the children they support to learn how to cook with the wonderful fare and teaching them about nutrition. An added benefit to children cooking and eating in a shared environment are the social skills and opportunities to meet others. They are not just learning about good, nutritious food and how to cook it, but are also part of a community.
And finally… here’s a few words from one of the youth charities that we supply
Tam who helps run Haringey Play, is a guy who is really passionate about giving kids a safe haven and creating and supporting play opportunities that are stimulating and challenging, says “Haringey Play association was set up 16 years ago, it’s quite a condensed area for refugees & has a high turnover of homeless people. The kids who come here come straight to the kitchen and ask for something to eat and we know that for some of them it’s the only hot meal that they might get. We have a lot of families who are economically challenged, and we don’t just feed our kids, we feed the families too. They come here and they pick up supplies on a weekly basis. The Felix Project is a lifeline to our families here.”
To find out more about the Felix Project visit our website
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