Hi Tom, thanks for this. I’ve been putting together a submission based on learning from US/Canada with Kayleigh Garthwaite and others, which has covered other themes (e.g. learning from other places/case studies). A few comments on current draft (if you want me to follow any up, let me know).
Q1- I could add other evidence of FI trends (in addition to food bank numbers/malnutrition figures)- Food and You survey, Survey of Londoners, Food Foundation etc- happy to provide a summary, though this will presumably be included in others’ submissions. Great that link to housing included. My research in Tameside also highlighted that benefit changes, whether to disability or UC switch, were resulting in lower incomes overall (not just payment delays). Poor mental/physical health, challenges with immigration status, physical access to shops and looking after kids/grandkids also came up in peoples descriptions of food insecurity.
Q2) More research in US but links between food insecurity and school attainment/productivity e.g Mariana Chilton. I think Fuel for School did some research on school-day hunger. Again in Tameside one mum described how her drop in income following disability meant switching from fresh produce to relying on end-of-day discounts and a weekly pantry shop, resulting in flare-up of skin problems and need for antibiotics- so there’s the longer-term health costs (as you mention). Links between inadequate/unchosen diet and poor mental health/contentedness.
On child obesity, @LizHarris might have bits to add but perhaps the focus has been too much on individual choice/vilifying certain ingredients rather than looking more broadly at food environments, school food, parental income etc.
Q3. Only thing I’d add is transport costs- could link with current GM campaigns for greater public ownership of buses given current price disparities and removal of low-profit routes. One mum living in rural area spends £8 on a 2-bus trip to the supermarket: in the US, smaller stores have been subsidised to provide more fresh fruit/veg.
Q4- I’ll leave that for the LA folk!
Q5- predictably perhaps, my general point here would be that what we’ve learned from foodbanks is that things aren’t working- government’s not been doing its job properly, wages at the bottom haven’t kept up with living costs while incomes at the top have skyrocketed, and it’s hard-stretched communities that are picking up the pieces with responses that are well-intentioned and vital, but inadequate. While improving current provision vital, the burden of labour is falling upon the wrong sector to mitigate food poverty e.g. challenges for food banks of retaining volunteers (many are older) and while they try to provide further-reaching support (debt/welfare advice etc) it can be a real struggle to train volunteers with the complexity and fast-changing nature of advice, which should arguably be supported by government bodies (cuts to CAB etc)- part of a broader argument about the responsibility of government to uphold the Right to Food falling on voluntary efforts and enabling further rollback of entitlements…
Q15 looks comprehensive: appointing a minister responsible for such coordination and ensuring Right to Food has been one ask of EHUK etc…I’m no expert on agricultural policy but ensuring subsidies support healthier food as well as export-friendly or less ecologically-friendly food. The consultation-led Peoples Food Policy is a rich source of suggestions: https://www.peoplesfoodpolicy.org. In line with upcoming National Food Strategy, @Adrian_Morley has mentioned devolving powers over procurement; could this result in improved school meal provision?