Exploring barriers and solutions to support children and families in food poverty
PHE ePoster Library. Cunningham V. Sep 12, 2019; 274317; 127
Vida Cunningham
Vida Cunningham
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Abstract
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Abstract Introduction
Food poverty is an increasing problem nationally with rising numbers of individuals accessing food banks. Lambeth has higher eligibility for free school meals than London and England, with residents being vulnerable to food poverty. Research shows school holidays are more challenging for families struggling economically, and affects not just families eligible for free school meals. The project sought to identify what the issues were and how they could be addressed. Method Focus groups were held with families to understand how holiday hunger affected children. Additionally, Food Bank discussions were held with providers and interviews carried out with voluntary sector organisations.
Results
There was generally a consensus that holiday hunger is an issue in Lambeth, manifested in eating cheaper but less healthy foods or a reliance on food banks. Holiday hunger is considered a direct result of low income, but some mentioned time as a factor for parents who were working and convenience food was an easy alternative to cooking. Examples were given of children eating food off shelves in the supermarkets and parents bringing their children to summer activities specifically to take advantage of the free food rather than necessarily the activity.
Conclusion
Supporting families during holiday time is crucial. In the absence of national policy, councils working with local organisations should develop initiatives that provide vulnerable children with at least one nutritious meal a day. These should be non-stigmatising and include opportunities for social and physical development. Local community organisations are best placed to deliver these interventions. External funding details
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