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To ask why there is such food poverty.

(613 Posts)
Helendee Wed 21-Oct-20 18:33:45

Please no flaming as I genuinely am seeking answers as to why so many children are going to school hungry these days.
This is not a critical or inflammatory post, I just want to know what’s gone wrong.
Obviously many of us are struggling financially because of Covid but food poverty was a huge problem before that.
Is it that benefit levels are too low to adequately feed our children?
What can we do to ameliorate the situation?

OP’s posts: |
TheFormerPorpentinaScamander Wed 21-Oct-20 18:41:51

Because the cost of living massively outweighs wages/benefits. This means you can't always afford to bulk buy or run a second freezer. Or have space to store loads of food.
Disability/mental health issues.
Lack of education of how to cook some things. Fuel poverty. Its all well and good lentils being cheap but not if you don't know what to do with them/can't afford to keep the oven on for hours to slow cook things.

I've just today been sent a £15 voucher for Asda to cover DS1s FSMs for half term week. I didnt realise this was being continued so it was a nice surprise. BUT I don't usually shop with Asda, my nearest one is 2 bus rides away. I could use it online, but then I'll have to pay the delivery charge. I actually have a Morrisons delivery pass that I paid for in richer times. Luckily I have family who can use it so I've 'sold' it to them. Probably against the rules but I can't use it otherwise!

TheFormerPorpentinaScamander Wed 21-Oct-20 18:44:53

As for what can we do? I dont know.
Removing the benefit cap would be a start.
I don't know who how we tackle the lack of education re food though. My dc are lucky in the sense that I can cook, they've never had much by way of processed, pre made meals. But i know people who wouldn't have a clue. There's no funding for any kind of community classes, and if there were the people who need them probably won't want to attend.

Helendee Wed 21-Oct-20 18:44:59

@@TheFormerPorpentinaScamander

Thanks for your reply. Would you say that benefits are not high enough to cover the cost of modest food shopping?

OP’s posts: |
Helendee Wed 21-Oct-20 18:47:20

I think that schools need to teach basic cooking skills from year 3 onwards, it’s so sad that many are clueless now and I speak as a pretty poor cook in all honesty.

OP’s posts: |
Fajitanita Wed 21-Oct-20 18:48:16

My parents spent their money on drugs, not saying this is usually the case of course, but for some that's the reality. For most its that wages or benefits aren't enough to cover the cost of living.

BasinHaircut Wed 21-Oct-20 18:50:43

One of the long term things we should be doing is teaching practical cookery at school. Basic knife skills, learning how to make basic sauces and dishes, learning basic nutrition and how to shop economically etc.

This and teaching the ability to critically appraise information and not believe everything you read —on social media— are two things I am very passionate about being added to our curriculum.

Basic skills that everyone needs.

ChaChaCha2012 Wed 21-Oct-20 18:50:53

@TheFormerPorpentinaScamander The government isn't covering FSM during the holiday. It's either a local charity or local business that is covering the cost. You might want to look at some of the things the Conservatives have said about those in receipt of FSM today, it's disgusting.

DoctorYang Wed 21-Oct-20 18:53:05

It's not just not knowing how to cook, its families living in poverty or low-income households that are stressed and tired! Working long hours for little pay, huge childcare costs, the mental load of not having enough money, etc can mean that there is not enough capacity (either mentally or physically) left to cook. Convenience food or takeaways use up more money but might be all they can muster up the energy for. On top of all the reasons already stated.

TheFormerPorpentinaScamander Wed 21-Oct-20 18:54:56

Ffs. Just typed a massive reply and lost it angry

FatGirlShrinking Wed 21-Oct-20 18:56:24

Bulk buy, access and education are big factors.

If you only have £30 grand total, no wiggle room at all and need to feed a family of 4 with no car. You either need to sacrifice part of your £30 to transport or buy local in small more expensive shops.

If you only have £30 you can't buy the much cheaper per kilo big bag of rice and use it over 3 months, you have to buy the more expensive small bags of rice every week because you only have enough money to buy the exact amount of food and toiletries you will use that week.

If you don't know how to turn the random selection of yellow stickered reduced foods or even full priced but much cheaper seasonal produce into full meals you have to rely on ready meals or processed/packaged foods.

I did GCSEs in 2000, one of my subjects was food technology. We spent 2 years designing, branding, labelling and packaging a sandwich of our creation based on Moroccan cuisine. Completely useless in terms of teaching me to cook.

14 and under we made something every week but it was generally cakes, trifles, tarts, fruit pies. Whereas my mum who left school late 70s learned how to cook full meals, shepherds pie, lasagna and so on.

alexdgr8 Wed 21-Oct-20 18:59:17

for many struggling families everything is a hurdle.
living way out, on a sink estate, long walk to infrequent bus, maybe 2 buses needed to get to supermarket/ town centre.
then schlepping back with heavy bulky shopping, and local buses often stop early. plus the cost of bus fares. and having to drag young children along.
things other people take for granted they don't have.

wegetthejobdone Wed 21-Oct-20 19:00:30

Benefits only cover the absolute basics, and do not cover the cost of private renting in my area. So you struggle to survive unless you can get in social housing - which for a 3 bed house is something like a 3 year wait even if you are already overcrowded AND the housing is having a moderately damaging impact on your health. So many people also dont have enough income to save, so any problem like a washing machine or car breaking down or a child being sick and not being able to work puts then into debt. I assume people are still getting caught out with the delay getting into universal credit and the payment free month if you yet paid four weekly rather than monthly. When I was teaching our most vulnerable children were young carers. A 13 year old who was responsible a lot of the time for herself and a younger sibling including getting money out of a cash point and shopping and cooking. Many children were also entitled to free school meals and didnt eat them as they didnt want to stand out, so they brought food from home (which their parents may or may not have budgeted for.) or they went hungry. Loads of reasons for food poverty and hungry kids in schools.

Camomila Wed 21-Oct-20 19:01:14

I think benefits have got lower and rents have got higher sad I was a FSM kid in the 90s and we were never hungry, nor were the other neighbourhood kids we were friends with.

CovidClara Wed 21-Oct-20 19:01:15

Helendee

I think that schools need to teach basic cooking skills from year 3 onwards, it’s so sad that many are clueless now and I speak as a pretty poor cook in all honesty.

People dont have kitchens and cant afford the gas

TheFormerPorpentinaScamander Wed 21-Oct-20 19:02:13

Helendee

@*@TheFormerPorpentinaScamander*

Thanks for your reply. Would you say that benefits are not high enough to cover the cost of modest food shopping?

Trying again..

It depends in part on where you live and what your other costs are. I'm in the South East, so my rent is high. I could technically move somewhere cheaper, but my whole family support network is here. And as a single parent with MH issues I need that support. Plus my DCs Dad and siblings are here.

My UC payment section says something along the lines of
How much you need as an adult £x
How much you need for 2 DC £y
How much you need for housing £z
Total (x+y+z) £A
Benefit cap =£B

B is less than A and I lose some thing like £260 as a result. So I get less than the gov say i need.
And before anyone says I could get a job, I'm currently too ill to do so and am waiting to hear back about an assement I had regarding it.

CovidClara Wed 21-Oct-20 19:04:50

Fajitanita

My parents spent their money on drugs, not saying this is usually the case of course, but for some that's the reality. For most its that wages or benefits aren't enough to cover the cost of living.

Thats an unpopular suggestion but true in some cases. Drugs, alcohol, smoking, new phones. That isn't the majority in my experience

People dont know how to manage money. Family had benefit issues, reliant on food bank but mostly the school that fed 4 children for 6 weeks. Back payment comes in and they book to go to Disney. 9 months later back on the food bank. They wanted their children to have what other children have- I get that.

SheepandCow Wed 21-Oct-20 19:05:00

What @TheFormerPorpentinaScamander
In fact lots of people can't actually afford a first freezer and/or have no space for one (that's not including the hundreds of thousands of homeless families living in rooms with no cooking facilities of their own).

Variety and fresh non processed food with lots of protein and healthy fats is the key to a healthy diet. Not always easy to achieve for people on very low incomes. Particularly if you add in the little extras that make a meal - herbs, spices, seasonings - flavour.

Cheap beige carbs are often more accessible than healthy alternatives.

Lots of people don't live close to food shops. Or it's a tiny convenience store with mostly expensive unhealthy instant foods.
Online delivery can be expensive and not available for some areas.

Think about this. Lots of people who became too ill to work or got made redundant before the pandemic have just £74 a week to live in. (An extra £20 was given from April - but only for people claiming because of Covid).

Housing benefits are given separately - but often fall far short of the rent. So people have to use a chunk of that paltry £74 to keep a roof over their heads. Then they have gas, electric, phone, internet (needed to claim benefits and look for a job), bus or train fares, etc. Leaves very little if anything for food.

TheFormerPorpentinaScamander Wed 21-Oct-20 19:06:08

@ChaChaCha2012 I didn't realise that. Maybe asda have funded it then. And I'd never complain about something for nothing anyway, but it's a pain!

@FatGirlShrinking we must be the same age. My food tech gcse was similar. Total waste of time!

FatimaMunchy Wed 21-Oct-20 19:07:11

Benefits are definitely on the low side. I also agree that a lot of people don't know how to cook.
When we were on our beam ends it used to upset me that I couldn't afford the larger more economical sizes. And yes I really was an expert on the Mumsnet chicken! We only had a tiny freezer at the top of the fridge too. And most special offers (3 for 2 type) still require you to spend more money than you have actually got to take advantage of the offer.

EssentialHummus Wed 21-Oct-20 19:07:27

I’ve found myself running a food bank over the past 6 months.

Inadequate housing/cooking facilities and utensils.
Energy poverty.
Lack of cooking experience.
Chaotic lifestyles that lend themselves to pinballing from one crisis to another.
Universal credit and the wait for it.

lockeddownandcrazy Wed 21-Oct-20 19:08:31

Its not a new thing its just more awareness that its a bad thing. Kids have gone to school over the years with just a bit of toast or nothing - it was just put down to them not getting up on time. Now its seen as a state failing to provide not a lack of parenting
All those who want more benefits or the cap reduced - where is the money coming from?

grassisjeweled Wed 21-Oct-20 19:08:52

Start by making childcare free, subsided from birth, which includes home cooked, free meals.

Like progressive societies do I. E. Norway.

This would make a massive difference to so many people.

TheFormerPorpentinaScamander Wed 21-Oct-20 19:09:55

That's true @SheepandCow. Not everyone has a 1st freezer. I was lucky and managed to get a free 2nd one a couple of months ago. I went away for a couple of days this weekend (didn't cost anything before i get questioned). I came home to find it has broken. "Luckily" it was almost empty, just a couple of bags of frozen fruit and some spinach in it. Hopefully its just a fuse so I can fix it.

CovidClara Wed 21-Oct-20 19:10:05

EssentialHummus

I’ve found myself running a food bank over the past 6 months.

Inadequate housing/cooking facilities and utensils.
Energy poverty.
Lack of cooking experience.
Chaotic lifestyles that lend themselves to pinballing from one crisis to another.
Universal credit and the wait for it.

Chaotic lives is a big thing. Arriving at school in a taxi because no-one has set an alarm and got up.

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