Food for thought

There has been an alarming increase in food poverty in the UK. In the eight years leading up to August 2015, the price of food and non-alcoholic drinks increased by 31% in the UK. That figure, amongst various other factors, has led to serious consequences for many across the country:

  • The number of children attending their first day of school underweight increased by 16% between 2012 and 2015.
  • The number of pregnant women with anaemia has reached its highest level in two decades, rising from 19.8% in 2001 to 22.8% in 2011.

How we are helping

The Together Network is tackling food poverty in communities across England. Through food banks and summer holiday projects intended to put a dent in to hunger, the Together Network has provided food for thousands of people. 

However, our work is not simply about putting food on plates. The Together Network is about building relationships; it is about building networks around people so that they can access support and build their own capacity.

For example, if you go to a food bank that is a part of the Together Network, you might well hear about a debt and budgeting advice clinic or an employment support service or many other similar programmes. You would find yourself a part of a wider network that sees the whole person and not just the hunger. 

Here is just a sample of the work that we’ve been doing.


Summer Holidays

The summer holidays can be a challenging time for parents; the free school meals are no longer available and their children need looking after. For working parents it can be difficult to arrange child care and meals for a whole six weeks. 

The Together Network provides support to these parents so that their children can be looked after, offered engaging and educational activities, and be fed a nutritious meal. 

These summer holiday projects are now well established in the North East in both Durham and Middlesbrough. Through the 2016 summer holidays, the Together Network in these two North East cities provided over 11,000 healthy meals.

The work is growing each year and our hope is for that to continue long into the future.


Foodbanks

The Together Nework in Blackburn Diocese, Together Lancashire, has been working consistently with foodbanks since 2012 and by the end of 2014 this network had grown to as many as 30 foodbanks and 15 drop-ins and community cafes, serving an estimated 5000-7500 people.

Together Lancashire has supported these foodbanks so that they can offer budgeting, job searching, and cookery classes. As well as this, Together Lancashire have now provided over 75 households with slow cookers so that they can cook nutritious meals with the food they receive from the foodbanks.


Gemma’s story

If you’re going to a Big Pancake Party with your children you’ll no doubt see them having a lot of fun. The room will be warm, full of people, your children will be laughing and enjoying the sugary food. If you took a moment to stand back from the room and watch them, it would be nice to see them so happy, so full of life.

Now imagine the opposite. Imagine they were really hungry after a day at school and they ask you for food and you don’t have any to give them. You’d be watching them grow hungry and there would be little you could do about it.

This is what happened to Gemma and it’s happening to parents across the country. Imagine what that must feel like.