December 5 2013 Latest news:
Monday, August 12, 2013
A third of children in London have trouble paying attention at school because they feel hungry, a report into food poverty and child hunger has found.
The research, Child Hunger in London – Understanding Food Poverty in the Capital, also found that 55 per cent of parents surveyed have seen their ability to afford food worsen over the past year, compared with seven per cent who have seen it improve.
The independent study into food poverty and child hunger in the capital, published by the London Food Board and leading research company, Ipsos MORI, surveyed more than 500 parents and 500 children at all income levels across London.
It was commissioned by Rosie Boycott in her role as chair of the London Food Board to inform the development of solutions to food poverty in the capital.
She said: “It is an unacceptable fact in 21st century London that there are children who are going hungry and that families are struggling to access good food. So it is more important than ever that we build a consensus to tackle food poverty while understanding more about the complex range of factors that contribute towards the problem.
“This research makes for difficult reading, but it’s intended to encourage further collaboration between key agencies including private and voluntary sectors to help improve our food culture.
“We need innovative solutions that empower people and it’s clear that schools have a particularly influential role to play.
“This is why the Mayor and I are working on a range of initiatives to improve school meals and to make the cooking and growing of food an integral part of school life. This will help to ensure that kids growing up now have the skills and the mind-set they need to feed their own families good food in the future.”
Other findings in the research included the fact that for 10 per cent of children their school lunch is the biggest meal of the day, that nine per cent - equivalent to 74,000 children across London - said they sometimes or often go to bed hungry, and that 30 per cent of families reported they had cut back on fresh fruit and vegetables in the past month.
The report was backed by Kids Company, which helps vulnerable children across the city, and Magic Breakfast.
Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder and CEO of Kids Company, said: “Hungry children don’t make public statements. They suffer in silence.
“That is why it is so important for those who can speak, to highlight their plight and take responsibility for change.
“In one of the richest countries of the world a child with too little to eat is a crime.
“The London Food Board’s attempt to make the invisible, visible, is the first step towards reaching hungry children with meaningful solutions. Believe it - children are starving in London.”
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has committed to a range of initiatives including a pledge to make London a ‘Zero Hunger’ city as part of his 2020 Vision.
As part of this commitment, launching today is an interactive website – the London Food Map - designed to help referral agencies point people towards local organisations and services that provide food for those in acute need.
Other City Hall-backed initiatives include support for every school to set up a food garden using a £800,000 Big Lottery Grant and £600,000 from the Department for Education to support the delivery of a pioneering pilot scheme in London to transform food in schools.
Additional projects include working with the Mayor’s Fund for London and the Magic Breakfast to create breakfast clubs for 5,000 children in London’s most deprived boroughs and helping to create more than 2,000 urban food growing spaces as part of the community food growing initiative Capital Growth.
Carmel McConnell, founder director of Magic Breakfast, said: “This report shows we’ve reached unacceptable levels of food poverty across London, which means the case for free school breakfasts and improved free school meal provision is stronger than ever.
“I applaud the London Food Board for investing in this research and fully support the recommendations.
“How can one of the greatest cities in the world tolerate the fact that one in five parents have skipped meals so that their children might eat?”