21 December 2023
66% worried about being able to afford enough food over Christmas
Two-thirds of people using food hubs are worried about being able to afford enough food to feed themselves or their children over the Christmas period, according to a survey of more than 9,000 people.
The poll revealed 66% of respondents using the food hubs are worried about being able to afford enough food to feed themselves or their children over the Christmas period.
Three quarters (75%) of respondents with children are worried about having to choose between buying food or presents for children over Christmas because they cannot afford them. This rises to 83% for parents living in local authority or housing association housing.
The survey, with analysis conducted by Dr Megan Blake from the University of Sheffield, also found The Bread Butter Thing’s food clubs are living on a knife edge with half of all respondents saying their household has less than £50 to get them through the month after they have paid for housing and electricity.
Ahead of Christmas, The Food Foundation and The Bread and Butter Thing, who run food clubs for people on low incomes, polled more than 9,000 food people to highlight the challenges facing many during the holiday period.
The Bread and Butter Thing's food club members have signed up to have access to low cost weekly shopping bags made up of a selection of surplus food from high street supermarkets, food manufacturers and farmers.
Shona Goudie, Policy and Advocacy Manager at The Food Foundation, said: "Despite inflation falling in recent months, The Food Foundation’s research tracking the cost of a weekly shop indicates that food prices remain worryingly high, leaving people struggling to afford the food they need.
"Our Food Insecurity Tracker has shown food insecurity levels have remained high in 2023, impacting approximately one in five households.
"The survey of The Bread and Butter Thing's members shows that, while Christmas is a time of celebration for some, others are feeling a huge amount of anxiety around being able to provide for their families."
Commenting on the results of the survey, Mark Game, CEO of The Bread and Butter Thing said: "Christmas is always such a stressful time of year for our communities where families are already stretched, struggling and juggling multiple priorities, caring responsibilities, low-paid work or illness, combined with the increased costs of childcare, travel and energy. These are people who have a lot on their plate."
Further to this, more than half of all respondents live in a household with income from employment, demonstrating that even those in work will find times tough over Christmas.
Most respondents with household incomes that include employment earnings said their households are still struggling to have enough money for the basic things they need to be able to live.
Fifty-nine percent of households with some income from employment reported that they have less than £100 to get them through the month after housing costs and energy bills are paid.
The survey showed that of The Bread and Butter Thing’s members, those with children are more likely to be earning, and yet of these nearly one in ten say they do not even break even after paying for their housing and energy bills.
Shireen Hussein, The Bread and Butter Thing member and mum of two said: "I have always enjoyed Christmas; it’s always been one of my favourite times of year - until this year!
"This year, money is tighter than ever. It’s Christmas in six days and I haven’t a single gift ready. My electric bill is sky high.
"Despite the house being cold, the gas bill is extortionate. I’m having to find money from nowhere to get to my hospital appointments.
"As a parent to children with additional needs who are in specialist education, another thing that costs a fortune is travelling to their schools (which are miles away!) to watch school shows.
"Yesterday I paid £20 in taxis to get my daughter to her school performance. Her class sang two songs. I loved every second of it, but £20 is a huge amount of money for many families, especially this time of year.
"I am unwell with my health at the minute and the stress of making sure my children have something under the tree this year and a decent meal is making concentrating on getting better difficult. I’m wondering if this year will be the first year I couldn’t get my children what they wanted for Christmas.
"It’s heartbreaking, not just for me, but there are so many families in the same position and it’s the children who suffer in the end."
Dr Megan Blake, University of Sheffield, added: "Many of these parents will have to choose between meals and providing for their children this Christmas.
"This will mean many will go hungry to ensure their children can eat or that they have a gift. The sad truth is that Christmas will be largely absent in many communities because so many people are just not getting by."
No one should have to worry about if they will be able to put food on the table for themselves and their children no matter what time of the year.
That is why, The Food Foundation is calling on the government to include a requirement that the cost of eating healthily be taken into account when setting benefits levels and the minimum wage to ensure that everyone can afford healthy and nutritious food.