The number of food banks in Brighton and Hove has risen from two to six in a year, with four more planning to open.
All of them report an increased demand, according to the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership.
And all of them receive at least some of their donated food via Fareshare. The Food Partnership said that support for Fareshare – through more food donations and more funding – was a priority for the city.
The Food Partnership said that some of the reasons for increasing food poverty included
- rising food prices – up by an average of 32 per cent in the past five years and more for many healthy foods such as fresh fruit
- rising fuel prices which put competing pressure on household budgets, leading to a trade-off between food poverty and fuel poverty
- the consequences of the recession, particularly lower household income as a result of joblessness and cuts in working hours
- changes to the welfare benefits system ranging from the introduction of universal credit to cuts in crisis loans
The Food Partnership tries to ensure that people have the skills and knowledge to shop and cook and make the most of their food budgets.
It helps them minimise food waste and avoid cheap products which have low nutritional value.
And it gives tips on how to eat healthily on a low income.
Its food strategy aims to improve the understanding of food poverty locally and identify ways to reduce the number of people affected.
It also works with a number of other local organisations.
As well as emergency help such as food banks, the Food Partnership supports a number of initiatives and campaigns which look at ways to address long-term underlying food poverty including
- the Brighton and Hove Living Wage campaign
- campaigns for more free school meals such as the Fair and Square Campaign
- breakfast clubs in schools and nurseries and childminders getting the Healthy Choice Award to ensure that food served is nutritious and age appropriate
- good-quality community meals – “meals on wheels” – as these reach the most vulnerable and those who can’t access help elsewhere
- work to reduce fuel poverty, such as insulation to help reduce fuel bills, because some people choose between spending on food and fuel
- continued provision of cookery lessons for adults, including those with additional needs such as learning disabilities, to learn how to shop and cook in ways that makes limited money go further
Members of the Food Partnership will be at the Brunswick Festival next Saturday (17 August), spreading the word.