Councillors in Norwich set to discuss problems with food poverty

Norwich Foodbank project manager Hannah Worsley, who will speak with councillors this afternoon. PHO

Norwich Foodbank project manager Hannah Worsley, who will speak with councillors this afternoon. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Councillors in Norwich are set to look at the causes of food poverty in the city, with a view to come up with possible solutions.

Members of the City Council's scrutiny committee are due to meet this afternoon, and will hear from three speakers who will give information on food poverty both nationally and locally.

They will then look at possible solutions to the issues at next month's meeting.

According to Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City University, food poverty is: 'worse diet, worse access, worse health, higher percentage of income on food and less choice from a restricted range of foods. Above all food poverty is about less or almost no consumption of fruit and vegetables.'

And a report seen by councillors listed 12 root causes of food poverty. These were delays in benefits, benefits sanctions, changes to benefits, unemployment, debt, domestic abuse, sickness, low income, homelessness, absence of free schools meals during school holidays, no recourse to public funds, and rising food prices.

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This meant people had poor nutrition, were over or underweight, suffered increased health inequalities, social isolation and over indebtedness.

Councillors will hear that locally, the average number of foodbank vouchers distributed for the Norwich Foodbank has risen, with between 85 - 92pc of foodbank users being unemployed in any given month since March 2015.

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And over 24 months the main reasons given for using the Norwich Foodbank were benefits delays/sanctions, low income, benefits changes and debt.

The committee will hear from Jo Mack (author of Breadline Britain), Councillor Vaughan Thomas (cabinet member for fairness and equality), and Hannah Worsley, from Norwich Foodbank.

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