What is food poverty?

Food poverty was defined by the Department of Health in 2005 as ‘the inability to afford or have reasonable access to food which provides a healthy diet’.

Another definition which helps us to understand the causes and impacts of food poverty is:

‘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 & vegetables’
Professor Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City University.

The food charity Sustain says : “Food poverty can be defined as the inability to obtain healthy affordable food.  This may be because people lack shops in their area or have trouble reaching them.  Other factors influencing food access are the availability of a range of healthy goods in local shops, income, transport, fear of crime, knowledge about what constitutes a healthy diet, and the skills to create healthy meals.

Due to this complex mix of factors, people on low incomes have the lowest intakes of fruit and vegetables and are far more likely to suffer from diet-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity and coronary heart disease.  Food poverty can also be about an overabundance of “junk” food as well as a lack of healthy food.

Food poverty is a complex issue that has become more visible with the recent rise in emergency food providers. Food bank use is an inadequate indicator of need, because many households only ask for emergency food help as a last resort. There are 30 food banks and 20 other emergency food providers in Devon, including soup kitchens, and day centres.”

A useful summary of food poverty in Devon herePublic Health Devon

Latest news on food poverty action, from national to local at Food Power