Child food insecurity in the UK – three new SPERI Briefs published today

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A research brief by the Families and Food in Hard Times study is published today by the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute as part of a new three-part series of British Political Economy Briefs on child food insecurity in the UK. Together, the briefs, co-ordinated by SPERI Research Fellow Dr Hannah Lambie-Mumford highlight the critical issue of children in the UK not having enough food to eat.

Dr Rachel Loopstra, Lecturer in Nutrition, King’s College London said:

“Together, these three new SPERI briefs point to the current inadequacy of social policies to ensure that children and their families always have enough food to eat in the UK and that they can do so in socially acceptable ways. Households with children are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity in the UK, and these briefs highlight how it is single parents and families with a larger number of children that have very high levels of risk. These findings are concerning given that entitlements for lone parent families and larger families are going to reduce in years to come.

“As Lambie-Mumford and Sims highlight, whilst policymakers and campaigners have sought other ways to ensure that children experiencing food insecurity receive food, there is little evidence that child feeding initiatives address household food insecurity. O’Connell highlights that whilst school food can play a vital role in reducing, if not eliminating nutritional and social inequalities, Free School Meals in Secondary Schools can be insufficient to compensate for a lack of food at home and also shame children leading to social stigma and fragmentation. Together, our work suggests food insecurity amongst households with children could be addressed by ensuring that families always have sufficient amounts of income to purchase enough food to meet their family’s food needs. In contrast, policy changes being rolled out since 2017 to child tax credits and the benefit freeze may mean that families with children may experience increasing food insecurity and be forced to seek more help from food banks.”

Download SPERI Paper No. 33: Families and Food in Hard Times: rising food poverty and the importance of children’s experiences.


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