Despite London being one of the richest cities in the world, thousands of people in the capital – including school children and older people – are going hungry. Our Health and Environment Committee report warns the problem is set to escalate over the coming months.
A Zero Hunger City – Tackling food poverty in London says food banks risk being overwhelmed in the near future as the economic downturn persists and living costs rise.
The report calls on the Mayor and his London Food Board to take a strategic lead on tackling food poverty with the aim of turning London into a Zero Hunger city. It says there should be a more coherent approach to emergency measures such as food banks and better long-term support for those at risk of food poverty.
It recommends measures, including:
- Working with partners to establish sustainable free breakfast clubs in schools;
- Lobbying the government to agree eligibility for free healthy school meals for all families in receipt of Universal Credit, with the London Food Board asked to identify models for providing universal healthy free school meals for all children across the capital;
- Monitoring risk factors for food poverty, including welfare reform;
- Ensuring any response to food poverty helps all groups, including older people;
- Food poverty action plans led by Borough Health and Wellbeing Boards and a link worker in all London boroughs;
- Schools having a plan to identify and address hunger throughout the school day and to support families in food poverty.
The report says children and older people are especially at risk of food poverty and sets out the potential impact on Londoners, including poor physical and mental health heart disease, diabetes, low birth weights and poor child development.
A survey of teachers by the Committee found that more than 95 per cent of teachers reported some children arriving at school hungry and over 60 per cent had given pupils food at their own expense. See a summary of our survey findings, attached.
Read a sheet of facts and figures about food poverty, below.
Many organisations and individuals contributed to our investigation. Read their submissions, attached.
The Mayor has now responded to our report - see his letter, below.