Wednesday 24 July 2024
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Cost of Living: 38,000 Nottinghamshire residents say they haven’t eaten for a whole day

Councillors and health leaders have called for urgent action over food poverty in Nottinghamshire.

Around 38,000 adults in the county said they have gone a whole day without eating because they couldn’t afford it, according to the most recent statistics from July 2023.

A total of 111,000 households had doubts about how they would get food – nearly double the number from the previous year.

The figures, which show the continuing impact of the cost of living crisis, were discussed by Nottinghamshire County Council’s health and wellbeing board on Wednesday (March 13).

Sarah Collis, Chair of Healthwatch Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, said: “It’s shameful to know what citizens in our area are going through. Food poverty is a gateway to a whole lot of other pain.”

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Councillor Penny Gowland (Labour) described food poverty as a “problem of inequality.”

“Some people can afford to give £10m to a political party and others can’t eat.”

There are striking geographic differences in food insecurity across the county, with Mansfield highlighted as hotspot.

The number of adults with food insecurity in each district and borough is:

Ashfield – 29.1 per cent

Bassetlaw – 29.9 per cent

Broxtowe – 5.6 per cent

Gedling – 2.9 per cent

Mansfield – 53.1 per cent

Newark & Sherwood – 16.7 per cent

Rushcliffe – 0 per cent

Nottinghamshire county – 19.5 per cent

Hetvi Parekh from Rushcliffe Foodbank which is a project of Sewa Day Nottingham said:

“Our foodbank has been established for over three years and we support people all over Rushcliffe in need.

“Over the years, we have seen rising demands especially during the winter months. Just last week, we received a phone call from a resident who had absolutely no food in her cupboard to feed herself and her family.

“We managed to arrange an emergency food parcel for her immediately.

“I am surprised with the statistics which suggest at first glance that Rushcliffe has zero food insecurity.

“That’s absolutely not true! We get referrals from Citizens Advice Bureau, Social Prescribers, Support workers etc and the demand for food parcels has not stopped.

“The cost of living crisis has impacted residents in Rushcliffe too and often people assume that Rushcliffe is an affluent area and this problem doesn’t exist.

“The scale of the problem may not be the same as other areas but it’s definitely not a zero per cent problem. We are committed to support residents during difficult times by providing parcels for both fresh and ambient food and they can get in touch with us via emailing us at rushcliffefoodbank@gmail.com.”

Councillor Caroline Ellis (Lab), who represents a Mansfield ward, said she has seen firsthand the growing need at food clubs and food banks.

“We are getting a lot of working poor – people who are using credit cards to pay bills, but running out of food,” she said.

“We’re noticing people smoking more because it stops them from getting hungry. They will have a cigarette or vape instead of food.”

Healthy Start is one national scheme aiming to tackle the problem, with free payments to spend on milk, fruit and vegetables and formula milk.

However, only around 70 per cent of Nottinghamshire people who are eligible (pregnant women and parents of children under four on certain benefits) are currently claiming it.

It’s recommended that the council develop and support local food partnerships to address food insecurity, working in collaboration with businesses.

Fuel poverty was also raised as an issue that is affecting the health of many worse-off residents in Nottinghamshire.

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