Food poverty means that an individual or household isn’t able to obtain healthy, nutritious food, or can’t access the food they would like to eat.
Despite increasing choice and affordability of food in the UK, many people eat what they can afford, not what they want.
This often results in people eating poor diets, which can lead to heart disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer, as well as inadequate levels of many vitamins and minerals. Obesity is now a sign of poverty in the rich countries, as hunger is in poor countries.
Food poverty and economic poverty are linked. Rent, tax and debts are fixed costs; food is the ‘flexible’ budget item, and families and individuals pay the price.
Poor children suffer from lower nutrient intake, bad dietary patterns, hunger, low fruit and vegetable consumption and problems accessing food in school holidays.
According to a report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation*, in the year 2000 around 4 million people in the UK were estimated to suffer from food poverty.
*Poverty and Social Exclusion in Britain (Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2000) by David Gordon, Laura Adelman, Karl Ashworth, Jonathan Bradshaw, Ruth Levitas, Sue Middleton, Christina Pantazis, Demi Patsios, Sarah Payne, Peter Townsend, and Julie Williams.