Following the publication of a new report from End Hunger UK, Good Food Oxford has written to Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodds, urging her to share the report with colleagues and support a bill to measure household food insecurity in the UK, being read on 2nd February 2018. We are inviting Good Food Oxford supporters to write to their local MPs asking them to do the same.
To make things easier, we are sharing the below message (also here, as a word document) so you can send the message via email or as a letter. If you have the time, we recommend adding any personal experiences or thoughts to tailor the message, though this isn’t essential.
I am very concerned that many people in the UK can’t afford to eat, can’t afford a healthy diet, or are worried about where their next meal is coming from. Research in Oxford conducted for Good Food Oxford suggests that around half of households in Barton and Rose Hill may face food insecurity.
Of course Oxford is in no way unique, food insecurity has a huge impact on people up and down the country. One way we know that people are going hungry is because in the past five years, food bank usage in the UK has risen rapidly. This raises important questions about how many people face insecure access to food. But knowing how many people use a food bank is not the same as knowing how many people can’t afford to eat. In fact, UN data collected in 2014 suggest that as many as 17 times the number of people using Trussell Trust food banks are food insecure, and data from UNICEF show that 19% of children under 15 live in a moderate to severely food insecure household. As we prepare to leave the European Union, food prices are already going up and are likely to rise further, putting further strain on the ability of families to afford enough healthy food.
It is shocking that there is no measure of food insecurity at the household level in the UK telling us how many people are in this situation. Other developed nations routinely monitor household food insecurity. Without information on household food insecurity, who is affected and why, it is impossible to put appropriate policies in place to tackle the problem and ensure they target the right people. Measuring food insecurity at the household level is neither difficult nor expensive. There are two existing survey tools that have been validated and could easily and inexpensively be added to an existing government survey of households. The UN Food Insecurity Experience Survey (FIES) and the USDA Food Insecurity assessment have been used in many countries around the world, and are the gold standard for measuring food insecurity. Indeed, the Food Standards Agency in the UK included a modified version of the USDA Food Insecurity assessment in its Low Income Diet and Nutrition Survey, published in 2007.
A motion to introduce a bill to measure household food insecurity in the UK was successfully passed in the House of Commons on 29th November during a ten minute reading. A second reading of the bill will take place on 2nd February 2018. As your constituent, I urge you to support the bill in February 2018. I also wanted to draw your attention to a new report released by the End Hunger UK campaign on 20th December outlining nine policy solutions that are crucial in the fight to end food poverty in the UK. I urge you to share the report with your colleagues in the Houses of Parliament.