Food poverty in the UK is a growing problem. Here’s how to get help when you’re struggling to afford to eat…
More and more people in this country are being plunged into poverty with many having to make the awful choice between heating and eating. According to the Trussell Trust, the need for food banks has increased by 81% since this time five years ago.* That’s a shocking statistic. Parents are skipping meals to make sure their children eat what little food they have and families are shivering in their homes because it’s too expensive to put the heating on.
We Can’t Afford To Eat
As petrol, gas, electric and food prices rocket, more and more of us are being forced into poverty. It’s getting increasingly difficult to make ends meet, and, for some people, this means being forced into food poverty. If your family is struggling to eat, please know this: there is absolutely no shame in it. No-one should ever have to go hungry.
You are not alone in your struggle – thousands of families across the UK are experiencing the same hardships. In fact, 2.1 million emergency food packages were given out to people in crisis over the past year.* Sadly, until real action is taken by the government, this situation doesn’t look likely to improve any time soon. Thankfully, there is help out there for families and individuals who are struggling to afford food, thanks to various charities and food banks. Let’s take a look at some of the options that are out there…
Food banks are available all over the UK and can provide emergency food, toiletries and supplies to those in need. You usually need to be referred to a food bank before you can use it. To get referred, you can visit or call your local Citizen’s Advice centre or talk to someone at school. Your local council may also be able to help. Once you have been referred, you will be given a voucher to take to your nearest food bank where you will be given a food parcel. You can find your nearest food bank here: www.trusselltrust.org/map
Your first visit to a food bank may feel incredibly daunting but please rest assured that you will be met by warm and welcoming volunteers. You can sit for a while and have a cup of tea and a biscuit, while you wait for your food parcel to be prepared. There will be no judgement or interrogation – you will be welcomed with open, understanding arms.
Your local council may be able to help you with vouchers to provide hot meals or household appliances. This is known as Welfare Assistance. Find your local council and get in touch to see if they offer this service here: https://www.gov.uk/find-local-council
Free School Meals
You may be entitled to free school meals. If you live in England, you can check if you’re entitled to this scheme here: https://www.gov.uk/apply-free-school-meals
In Scotland, all children are entitled to free school meals from Primary 1-5, regardless of their income. Aside from this, there are lots of other ways you can be entitled to free school lunches – for example, if your parent is in receipt of income support. Get more support and information here: https://www.mygov.scot/school-meals
For Wales, you can find information here: https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2019-03/free-school-meals-in-wales-information-for-schools.pdf
Northern Ireland: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/nutrition-and-school-lunches
If you’re over 18, you may be entitled to benefits to help you meet the cost of living. To check which benefits you may be entitled to, click here: https://www.entitledto.co.uk/?e2dwp=y
If you need further support or advice, please reach out to someone. You can talk to a teacher at school or your local Citizen’s Advice. Food charities such as The Trussell Trust can also help – check out their website for advice: https://www.trusselltrust.org/hunger-free-future/join-us/