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Food poverty: 1 in 3 London boroughs have cut meals on wheels, new report shows

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Last week London's first comprehensive food poverty report was released which looks Beyond the Food Bank at what local authorities are doing to help the most vulnerable access food.

The new report from London Food Link, looks at support from infants through to old age, focusing on initiatives that help put more money in the pockets of those in need (healthy start vouchers, breastfeeding, living wage, free school meals, along with breakfast clubs and holiday meal provision), and those that help provide access to affordable, healthy food (improving physical access and supporting meals on wheels).

The report shows that:

  • 1 in 3 London boroughs have cut their meals on wheels.
  • 220,000 London pupils from families living below the poverty line are not enrolled in Free School Meals - most of whom are not eligible.
  • 64% of London boroughs do not guarantee employees a London Living Wage.
  • Ten London boroughs no longer offer a meals on wheels service, which provides healthy meals for vulnerable and isolated older people at risk of malnutrition.
  • Vital schemes like Healthy Start - which provide vouchers for fruit and vegetables that increase young families' food budgets by 14-25% - are under-enrolled. More than 1 in 4 eligible London mothers and children are not receiving these vouchers.
  • Some 1.5 million children nationally are currently disqualified from receiving because their parents receive tax credits to top up their low wage work. There are an estimated 220,000 London pupils living below the poverty line who are not enrolled in Free School Meals. That means 18%, or one in five London pupils, are at risk of hunger during the school day.
  • Over half a million children in London will struggle for food during school holidays.

Report author, Hannah Laurison commented, "Too much focus has been put on the role of food banks in tackling food poverty. Whilst it's incredibly important that we support individuals in crisis, alleviating long term food poverty requires action to reduce inequality, preserve a strong safety net and build resilient communities where good food is available to all. This report shows what local authorities can do, and in some cases are already doing to address this."

The report is available here.

Posted on 3 November 2015