25 April 2023
The Food Foundation releases powerful short film on cost of living crisis to be shown in Parliament as food inflation hits 19%
A new short film released today by The Food Foundation sheds light on the reality faced by families struggling to put food on the table during the cost of living crisis.
Following the news that food and drink inflation is now at 19.1%, a mother from Meriden in Solihull, shares how soaring food prices have impacted her children.
She skips meals to ensure her children can eat, with vegetables and fresh food now too expensive and frozen food being the only affordable option. Weekly increases in the cost of baby formula have left her forced to consider feeding her nine-month-old with cow’s milk (which is against safe feeding practices).
The Food Foundation’s seven-minute film, 'They Know We Are Here', was shot in Birmingham, Meriden and Solihull in March 2023, and also features Dr Ewan Hamnett, a GP who has been working in Birmingham for nearly 30 years.
Dr Hamnett highlights the fact that unhealthy food is cheaper than healthy food, meaning those with limited income have no choice but to eat diets which will damage their health in the long term, leading to significantly increased costs for the NHS.
He said: “The cost of this will fall on government. It’s a false economy. So to not invest in people’s lives is crazy because you’ll have the health and social care costs later in life."
'They Know We Are Here', which was funded by the Nuffield Foundation, will be shown in parliament at a House of Commons event today held by The Food Foundation and Which?, sponsored by Paulette Hamilton MP and Peter Aldous MP and hosted by the BBC Radio 4 Food Programme’s Sheila Dillon. The event will focus on the 'cost of food crisis' and new research from the frontline.
Latest data on national food insecurity levels from The Food Foundation’s Food Insecurity Tracker show that food insecurity has doubled in the last year, with 9.3 million adults (17.7% of households) experiencing food insecurity in January 2023 and one in four households with children (4 million children) experiencing food insecurity in the same month.
The Food Foundation is calling on retailers to do more to support access to healthy essentials as families struggle with the cost of living, by implementing the asks in the Kids Food Guarantee.
The Food Foundation is calling on the government to:
- Expand and strengthen nutritional safety net schemes including Free School Meals and Healthy Start
- Decide which government department is responsible for tackling escalating levels of food insecurity and nominate a Minister to lead on addressing the problem
- Encourage retailers to pay the Real Living Wage, making it easier for people to afford the food they need
- Ensure that minimum wage and benefit levels are set at values that take into account what is required for families to afford a healthy diet.
The mother from Solihull, said, "Prices at the moment are making it impossible for me to afford healthy food for my family, let alone feed myself, and I know it will have an impact on my children’s lives. I have to put this to the back of my mind and force myself to cope and carry on.
"There are so many children living in poverty and adults going without meals, but the shame associated with struggling means very few people speak out. I want MPs to try and understand just how much the cost of living crisis affects everyone, every day - especially people who are on low incomes.
"They know that we’re here, but they don’t see us."
Chef Tom Kerridge, said: "This powerful film captures the daily struggle that millions of households are dealing with, and it's a disturbing reality to confront.
"It seems impossible that in the sixth biggest economy in the world, so many parents are unable to afford the most basic essentials for their children and are skipping meals themselves.
"All children should have enough nutritious food so they can grow and learn. I hope the government takes this film seriously, and responds with measures to effectively tackle the cost of living crisis so everyone in the UK has access to a healthy diet."
Anna Taylor, Executive Director of the Food Foundation, said: "Food price inflation of almost 20% is a daily crisis for low-income families.
"Food insecurity rates have doubled in the past year and one in four households with children are affected. The government must do more.
"It must ask supermarkets to explore what they can do to make nutritious food affordable to low-income families. It must promote payment of the Real Living Wage by big employers.
"It should be heavily promoting the Healthy Start scheme as currently one in three people eligible are not registered. It should expand Free School Meals to all children living below the poverty line and it should rapidly review the adequacy of benefit payments so they are sufficient to guarantee basic living costs.
"The National Food Strategy independent review was a considered and evidence-based set of proposals on what needs to change in our food system, so healthy and sustainable food is accessible to everyone.
"Yet the government has just chosen a small number of actions to take forward, thereby dodging the important challenge of thinking about the system failures that we are experiencing and how they can be fixed.
"Escalating food price inflation shows the consequences of inaction and should be a wake-up call to the fact that the food system – both its resilience to shocks and its impact on our health and environment – is in urgent need of systemic change which can only be achieved if the government has a clear vision for reform and the leadership to back it."
NOTES TO EDITOR
Contact Pandora Haydon on 07789 712608 or email Pandora.email@example.com
Food Foundation Insecurity tracker here.
AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW
Anna Taylor – Executive Director, Food Foundation
Shona Goudie – Research lead
Jo Ralling – Film Producer
Sasha Snow – Film Director
About the Food Foundation
The Food Foundation is a charity working to influence food policy and business practice, shaping a sustainable food system which makes healthy diets affordable and accessible for all. We work in partnership with researchers, campaigners, community bodies, industry, investors, government and citizens to galvanise the UK’s diverse agents of change, using surprising and inventive ideas to drive fundamental shifts in our food system. These efforts are based on the continual re-evaluation of opportunities for action, building and synthesising strong evidence, convening powerful coalitions, harnessing citizens’ voices and delivering impactful communications.
Registered Charity Number 1187611.
Funded by Nuffield Foundation as part of The Food Foundation’s work on Dietary Inequalities
About The Nuffield Foundation
The Nuffield Foundation is an independent charitable trust with a mission to advance social well-being. It funds research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare, and Justice. It also funds student programmes that provide opportunities for young people to develop skills in quantitative and scientific methods. The Nuffield Foundation is the founder and co-funder of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, the Ada Lovelace Institute and the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory. The Foundation has funded this project, but the views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the Foundation.