Katie Cavanna: Food is the moral right of all who are born into this world

400 katsu cauliflower curries by Me and Mrs Jones Deli

400 katsu cauliflower curries by Me and Mrs Jones Deli - Credit: Archant

The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed the profound insecurity of large segments of the UK population.

Increased unemployment, reduced hours, and enforced self-isolation for multiple vulnerable groups is likely to lead to an increase in UK food insecurity, exacerbating diet-related health inequalities.

Household food insecurity, or food poverty, can be triggered by a crisis in finance or personal circumstances but may also be a long-term experience of not being able to access a healthy diet or afford to eat well.

The experiences of these people are just the tip of the iceberg – those in such crisis that they rely on charitable handouts.

Food poverty, or household food insecurity, has a myriad of faces.

It can affect children who lack free school meals during the holidays; parents on low incomes going without food so that their children can eat; working people whose low wages leave them struggling to buy healthy food; or older people unable to prepare meals without support.

The Food Foundation has just released the results of a YouGov survey on the impact of Covid-19 on food access.

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They found that: 'More than 1.5 million adults in Britain say they cannot obtain enough food, Fifty three per cent of NHS workers are worried about getting food, and half of parents with children eligible for free school meals have not received any substitute meals to keep their children fed, despite Government assurances that they would provide food vouchers or parcels. This means that 830,000 children could be going without daily sustenance on which they usually rely.'

RE4orm's current project, Food 4 Torbay, was set up seven weeks ago, in response to closure of schools and the effect this would have on families across Torbay.

With 6,000 children in poverty in Torbay, there was an urgent need to provide grassroots support, quickly and efficiently, a successful meal and food parcel distribution service was created.

We understood the pressure on local supermarkets and wholesale distribution centres when the crisis hit and established a system that used local producers with locally sourced ingredients.

Food 4 Torbay works collaboratively with a number of local restaurants and food suppliers in the area who work tirelessly every week to ensure almost 1,000 meals are cooked and delivered to families in need.

RE4orm's mission is to connect and inspire communities, Food 4 Torbay, has done this beautifully uniting families, business owners and volunteers. I have never been prouder of the community spirit shown on a daily basis.

From the beginning, we have delivered meals and food packages containing healthy and nutritious stock.

From vegetable and lentil bakes to mixed bean and vegetable enchiladas, the team has worked incredibly hard to ensure families are receiving well-balanced meals with ingredients locally sourced.

The food packages are rich, varied and wholesome; each of the boxes include vegetables and fruit with hygiene packs and a sweet treat to enjoy.

The feedback from families has been stunning and completely overwhelming: 'I honestly cannot thank you enough. This is going to make all the difference…my little lad has already started tucking into the vegetable and lentil bake – it's probably the healthiest thing he's eaten in weeks.'

Twice a week, meals and food parcels are sent out to families referred to RE4orm by schools, Action 4 Children and Torbay children's services.

Over the last seven weeks, Team RE4orm has sent out 6,200 meals and 6,200 food parcels.

Emergency food parcels can only address the symptoms, not the causes, of food poverty.

It will only happen, if Government decides to address the underlying causes of poverty and destitution.

Put simply, this means wages not being enough. Benefits not being enough. The money people have to exist on just not being enough.

Part of the long-term vision is that people should be able to buy food for themselves, that has to be core to solving the problem.