Food poverty now bigger public health concern than diet – expert claims

Panorama explores claims many turn to food banks due to being penalised when judged to have broken benefit conditions

By Patrick Butler, social policy editor

The prevalence of poverty–stricken families who cannot afford to buy sufficient food is overtaking unhealthy eating as the most pressing public health concern, a public health specialist has claimed.

The claim is made in a BBC Panorama documentary to be broadcast on Monday evening which found that over a third of local authorities in England and Wales were now providing funding for food banks, despite government claims that charity food is not a part of the social security system.

Julie Hirst, public health specialist at Derbyshire county council, told Panorama the authority had invested £126,000 from its public health budget in food banks.

She said: “It’s now become an issue of food poverty and some people in the country are not being able to eat at all – and if people can’t eat at all, what’s the point in trying to get them to eat healthily?”

Elizabeth Dowler, a professor at Warwick University and the co-author of a recent government-commissioned report on food aid provision, told the programme it was shocking so many councils were investing in food banks.

“Food banks are an inadequate plaster over a gaping wound … They do not solve the problems. And that they should be enshrined as an inadequate solution is deeply immoral.”

Read more » theguardian
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/mar/03/food-banks-public-health-benefits-panorama?CMP=twt_gu&utm_source=hootsuite&utm_campaign=hootsuite

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