This is London Food Link’s third Beyond the Food Bank: London Food Poverty Profile report. It tracks what London councils are doing to improve household food security, which according to accepted definitions is means helping residents to ‘feed themselves and their dependents adequately, healthily and without anxiety’.
Unfortunately, for a significant number of Londoners, including many who work, household food insecurity, or food poverty, is a daily reality. This means many people end up skipping or skimping on meals, choosing less healthy options, and frequently worrying about how to balance food bills against other necessities.
Food poverty has many causes. These included low pay, precarious work, ill-health and shortfalls in welfare support, combined with high housing and travel costs, which all put pressure on budgets where food is often the easiest item to squeeze. Other factors that compound this include an inability to reach shops selling a variety of nutritious foods, or a declining ability to shop and cook due to age or illness. This can result in episodes of hunger, chronic poor nutrition (with attendant ill-health) and psychological stress. Local authorities have limited powers to tackle national problems, but the 10 measures selected for this report are all policies that councils can and are implementing, to varying degrees. By improving performance on all 10, councils can make a real difference to the health and wellbeing of their residents.