Blog by Lindsay Graham, Child Food Poverty Policy Advisor
2018 is the Year of Young People in Scotland and it is important that the views of young scots are valued and included in policy making that affects their future. An estimated 260,000 children are living in poverty in Scotland but we know little about how many of these children experience food insecurity, how it impacts on their lives and what they think could be done to improve it. The Trussell Trust latest report states that between 1st April 2017 and 31st March 2018, The Trussell Trust’s foodbank network distributed 1,332,952 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis, a 13% increase on the previous year. 484,026 of these went to children. UNICEF’s analysis of 2015 data estimated that 10% of British children are living in severely food insecure households, but this survey is based on a relatively small sample.
Evidence suggests that even where parents protect their children from having to cut back on food, the indirect effects are likely to be profound. The cheapest foods are often the least healthy and the nutritional quality of diets varies substantially between rich and poor in Britain. The evidence also suggests that child food insecurity exists, and potentially affects millions of children in the UK but that the nature, extent and effects of child food insecurity are poorly understood. The problem has received some political attention, virtually no media attention but most importantly children’s voices are absent.
In November 2017 The Childrens Future Food Inquiry was launched to enable children and young people across the UK to share their thoughts views, lived experiences and ideas for positive change with policy makers. Chaired by Sharon Hodgson MP and Dr Philippa Whitford MP it brings together parliamentarians and leading children’s organisations including the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the Children’s Society, the Child Poverty Action Group and the Children’s Commissioner in Scotland. The Food Foundation, working closely with a group of independent experts and Leeds Beckett University will coordinate the delivery of the Inquiry, working in partnership with four children’s organisations: Fixers, Children in Scotland, Children in Wales and Children in Northern Ireland. The Inquiry focuses on involve in-depth consultation with more than 300 children across the UK and involve reviewing submissions from a further 500 children and adults. It will include four evidence hearings, and a national poll to gather representative data on children’s experiences. It will include an academic literature review (led by the National Institute of Health Research) and policy review.
This inquiry is very timely for Scotland as the Scottish Government looks at the ‘Right to Food’, and Scotland’s ambition to become a ‘Good Food Nation’. The chimes with Scotland’s recently published Child Poverty Delivery Plan that recognised the extra costs with food and activities over school holidays. To that end it’s good to be able to share that the first Scottish focus groups with children and young people have taken place and a stakeholder network has been established. The Inquiry web portal Hosted by Leeds Beckett University is due to open at the end of May early June and you can find out more about the inquiry and sign up for the newsletter by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, please visit www.foodfoundation.org.uk/childrens-future-food-inquiry/
Follow Lindsay on twitter: @LindsayGrahamUK