Levels of food insecurity in Britain are among the highest in Europe.
More than four million children in one of the richest countries in the world are growing up in poverty, their access to adequate nutrition compromised. Beyond the misery and stress of not knowing where the next meal is coming from, it is well established that poor diet is linked to coronary heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer. The situation is now so dire that after declaring that food insecurity is significant and growing in the UK, with levels among the worst in Europe, particularly for children, parliament’s environmental audit committee last year recommended that the government should appoint a minister for hunger.
“If you’re on minimum wage with a zero-hours contract, or you’re disabled, or have learning difficulties or mental health issues, then providing decent food day in, day out is difficult,” Hackney continues. “It only takes one emergency – your cooker or fridge breaking down, for instance – and then what? You haven’t got any savings as saving isn’t possible, so you’re now in crisis and you’re tempted to take out loans at exorbitant rates to fix the problem. The other option is to not heat your home, not pay the rent or not buy food. Things can very quickly spiral out of control.”