Category: Blog

“Can we put the lights on?”

By Dr Naomi Maynard Good Food Programme Director with St Andrews Community Network

It’s 8.40, nearly time to open. Members have been queuing outside since 8am having a chat whilst the volunteers have set out the fruit and veg and put the kettle on. I’m at the desk again, computer ready to sign people into the food pantry. But somethings off. It’s raining, and dingy in here today, I can’t quite see the screen. Shouting across to Bill, anther volunteers, I say “can we put the lights on?”

He says no.

You see, the food pantry where I volunteer is in our local church, a beautiful, freezing, Grade 1 listed building. The stain glass windows have holes in them. In the winter it often feels colder in here than outside. It used to cost about £35 each pantry session to heat the building and keep the lights on. Since the energy prices went up, that’s now more like £70.

This scenario is being played out across the country, with voluntary organisations making small cut backs as they too are feeling the pinch. Switching off the heating and lighting (‘but we still want to be welcoming’), volunteers starting to claim for petrol costs to pick up donations, when before they saw it as their gift to the charity.  Little changes, pointing to a bigger crisis: that the charity sector is creaking and it cannot cope with what may be ahead.

Donations at the city’s foodbanks are down at a time when demand is increasingly sharply. Perhaps donations haven’t ever fully picked back up since the pandemic, due to a combination of more people shopping online (and therefore no longer dropping items in supermarket collection point) and an increase in working from home meaning that some office foodbank collections haven’t resumed. As more middle-income families are now feeling the pinch, charities are already reporting cuts to giving, meaning this isn’t likely to get better.

This week, in a survey of foodbanks conducted by the Independent Food Aid Network, 78% reported a drop in food or financial donations in recent months, with over half of these having to dip into their financial reserves to pay for food or vouchers. Will some soon be closing their doors?

Locally, St Andrews Community Network, who run North Liverpool Foodbank and the North Liverpool Your Local Pantry Network are feeling this mismatch in supply and demand. So far this month they have received in 2725kg in food donations, via the Fans Supporting Foodbanks match-day collections, supermarkets and other community donation points. They have given out 4490kg across their networks. They used to have a mountain of baked beans stored up in a warehouse. This has now gone. With the football seasons almost over (a key source of donations) it is going to be a long summer. Fans Supporting Foodbanks have posted a photo of a bare cupboard, appealing for donations. The situation has become unsustainable.

Radical change is needed. And the squeezed charity sector cannot be the answer.

In the next few weeks (not months) we need the government to make some bold decisions – uprating benefits in line with the reality of inflation, reinstating the £20 Universal Credit uplift and an increase in emergency funding for local authorities, would be a start.

But longer term we need more money in people’s pockets, no one should be living off emergency food aid. Everyone in work should be paid at least the Real Living Wage, we need improved working conditions and stable contracts that allow workers to adequately provide for their households (see Zero Hours Justice – a campaign – ZERO HOURS JUSTICE) . We need a stronger benefits safety net and a more generous and fair asylum system. And placed-based solutions which improve access to good food, coupled with an overhaul of our food system being unafraid to produce more food on our own soil.

Many others will have solutions – businesses, academics, policy makers, charities, community activists. Let’s put them into action now. Winter is coming. We cannot delay.

“When do we riot?”

By Dr Naomi Maynard, Good Food Programme Director and Natalie Davies

April Fool’s Day, our kids were late back from their school trip. A blessing really, giving me time to stop and listen. Natalie’s been a good friend for over 3 years, since we were pregnant at the same time with our littlest children and I was new to Everton. Where we live doesn’t have the best statistics, we have the highest Index of Multiple Deprivation score for the city, are one of England’s top ten most economically deprived food deserts, and have significantly more than the national average of children, by reception age, who are obese. New research has also identified our constituency as the least able to withstand the rising cost of living in the UK.  But for us it is home, an area with amazing community, a beautiful view of the city and teachers who champion our kids.

“Over six months of trying and still nothing” Natalie exclaims. She has been trying to switch from her Pre-Payment energy meter to a direct debit energy deal, but none of the major suppliers will have her. “It’s exhausting, they just say ‘we have no-one in your area to do this’ or ‘phone again in a few months’, I want a smart meter and to be on a direct debit. I know this will save me money but what can I do?

“I couldn’t even take up Martin Lewis’ advice to top up our meter as much as we could before the price changes came in at the start of April. I didn’t have anything spare that week to put on, and even if I did my supplier said they’d recoup their losses next time I topped up! What a joke!”

In charity and academic speak, what Natalie is experiencing is called The Poverty Premium – when lower income households are paying more for essential goods or services because the best deals aren’t available to them. This means the impact of price rises aren’t experienced evenly across all pay brackets, unfairly putting significant, avoidable additional pressure on lower-income households trying to keep their heads above water.

Natalie works part-time for the NHS as a cleaner, bringing home just £9.20 a hour. This, coupled with her Universal Credit entitlement, goes quickly once she has paid for rent, council tax, energy, transport to work, food and clothes for her two children. She also is working towards a degree part-time. For Natalie the end of the £20 per week Universal Credit uplift in October signalled the end of ‘Funky Fruit Fridays’ where she’d take the kids to the supermarket after school to pick fresh fruits to try over the weekend. She’s worried about the energy prices going up and what it’ll mean she has to cut back on.  Her household budget, like those of so many others, simply doesn’t have many more places it can be cut.

As we chat, my grand phrases about how we can ‘redesign this man-made economy’  and need to ‘ensure those in power know the reality on the ground’ suddenly feel hollow: change just isn’t coming fast enough. Yes, the Chancellor announced additional funds for our council to distribute through the Household Support Fund, and we have the excellent Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme and many charities around who will support households during this crisis. But will this be enough? Is this really the solution? Our lower income households need better wages, a stronger safety net and fair access to the very best deals.

The school bus pulled in, and we were onto the next thing: playtime, dinner, bed. As we parted Natalie threw out the challenge “So, when do we riot?”  Frustration, hopelessness, injustice, outrage spilling out in five short words, spoken with smile.

Why don’t people just make soup?

By Dr. Naomi Maynard, Feeding Liverpool’s Good Food Programme Director

This question “why don’t people just make soup?” gets asked again and again in conversations about how to support people on lower incomes so they can eat good food.

It may seem like a simple solution and eating healthily on a tight budget is certainly possible, but there are hurdles in the way that make this more of a challenge than may first appear to someone who hasn’t experienced this first-hand.

Sarah’s story*, shared more formally as part the House of Lords’ Hungry for Change: Fixing the Failures in Food Select Committee Report, and personalised for this blog, highlights why preparing healthy, nutritious meals, particularly for those on the lowest incomes, isn’t as simple as “just make soup”.

Sarah’s a part-time cleaner for the NHS and a mum to three kids ages two, seven, and thirteen. She’s used to buying ready meals for her family; they are easy to prepare (10 minutes in the oven whilst the littlest one runs around her feet), are usually enjoyed by all her children, and are often on deal at her local convenience store.

However, after worrying about how to support her children to eat a varied and healthy diet on her income, she was encouraged by a friendly charity worker to “just make vegetable soup”.

But would her children even like vegetable soup? This was a worry for Sarah, she couldn’t afford for the meal to get wasted.

Sarah didn’t have any recipe books to use, so after difficulties logging online – Sarah can’t afford fast WIFI in her house, and doesn’t have unlimited data on her phone – she managed to find a recipe.

She didn’t have all the ingredients already, and some of the stock and flavourings weren’t available in her local convenience store. This meant a bus trip to a larger store and £4.00 on the return fare with the toddler in tow.

If the ingredients had been sold in Sarah’s local shop, they are likely only to be available in small quantities and therefore decreasing the value for money. A cost of the ingredients of a new meal without a “middle class store cupboard” is estimated at £15.[1]

After reaching the larger store, Sarah had to resist her toddler’s cries “can we get the cheesy pizza! Look mum, ice-cream!” – what’s called Pester Power – and the shiny deals of quicker, simpler meals displayed throughout the store.

When home, Sarah realised she didn’t have all the equipment listed in the recipe to make the soup. She needed weighing scales, knives, a peeler, and a hob, and ideally a blender, although if she boiled the veg for long enough, she could do this with a fork. Sarah also needed the money for the extra gas; this was going to take longer than some of the meals she usually made.

This meant more purchases, which, whilst Sarah knew would pay off in the long run, when budgets are tight there isn’t always money to be able to buy investment items like these.

Following the new recipe itself was a little stressful and certainly time-consuming especially with the fear that if the soup goes wrong, or is unpopular with the rest of the family, or simply doesn’t taste good, her kids may want to eat something else. Meaning she’d have to pay for two meals along with the time, money, and energy spent on the soup having been wasted. If that happened, the remaining ingredients may also go to waste. There was also the worry that her hungry children or her teenager may not feel full having eaten only soup.

Separately, Sarah’s worries and difficulties are not insurmountable. Combined, however, they represent real barriers to accessing good food and a healthy diet. When there are so many easy, cheap, and reliable alternatives available, “just make soup” or similar suggestions can very quickly become an unappealing option.


*Whilst Sarah is a fictional character used to personalise the case study written for the House of Lords Select Committee, her experiences echo those we have heard through our work with people with experience of poverty

New government scheme fails to address the scale of food poverty this winter

The Government has announced a new fund for councils to support low-income families access food and other essentials during the winter. Councils should adopt a cash-first approach when supporting households this winter.

Read this blog by Sustain’s Cecily Spelling who explains why this fails to address the scale of food poverty this winter.

The Department for Work and Pensions has announced a new £500 million Household Support fund to support low-income families across the UK. Distributed by councils, this fund aims to support families access the food and other essentials they need during the winter as we continue to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

This new fund, similar in format to previous Covid-19 grant schemes, comes days before the Government’s cut Universal Credit by £20 a week, despite strong opposition from its own party and civil society. It also comes amidst continued calls from the End Child Food Poverty campaign, spearheaded by Marcus Rashford, for changes to longer-term solutions to child poverty including increasing the eligibility threshold for both the free school meals and the Healthy Start voucher scheme and long-term funding for holiday food and activities programmes.

Cecily Spelling, Food Poverty Campaign Coordinator, Sustain says:

“By launching the Household Support Fund, the Government is giving crumbs from the table with one hand, whilst taking away the rest of the store cupboard with the other. Instead of emergency funds, it should focus on the longer-term changes that will offer the dignified support people deserve. This should include dropping plans to cut Universal Credit, extending the eligibility for free school meals and Healthy Start, and long-term funding for the holiday activities and food programmes. That would be a start, not more measures that paint over the cracks of poverty.”

What does the fund offer?

This new fund will provide £500 million across all four UK nations. The Scottish Government will receive £41 million, the Welsh Government will receive £25 million, and the Northern Ireland Executive will receive £14million. Devolved nations will be able to choose how to best allocate this funding, but funding will be distributed by local authorities in England.

Finer details are yet to be announced but we believe that councils will be able to decide how this money is distributed. Funding could be delivered through cash-first approaches which offer a more dignified access to support for people that need it. It could also be used to plug the holes in the Holiday Activities and Food Programme in England, which is currently only funded by government to provide support for one week during the two-week Christmas break and excludes provision for the upcoming October or February half terms.

What do we need instead?

The Household Support Fund is another sticking plaster to a much deeper problem, offered as an olive branch in the face of revolt from civil society and Parliament. Instead of more emergency funds that only reach a small minority of people, we need longer-term solutions that offer dignified support and choice for people and can build systemic change. We call on the Government to:

  1. Cancel the planned £20 cut to Universal Credit to ensure our social security system is adequate for those that need it. With 40% of people on Universal Credit already in work, it’s clear government needs to invest in both social security and wages
  2. Extend eligibility for free school meals for all children in households with income below £20,000 (at present the threshold for England and Wales is £7,400), and to ensure this includes children that are undocumented or living in households under the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) immigration condition.
  3. Extend eligibility for Healthy Start vouchers for pregnant women and families with small children to include all children under 4 years old (currently cuts off at age 3), and all households with income below £20,000 before benefits, including undocumented children and those under NRPF immigration conditions as above.
  4. Provide long term funding for school Holiday Activities and Food Programmes, with increased eligibility as for free school meals.

What can you do to ensure the Fund is well-used?

If you’re a local authority, you can ensure you provide the most dignified form or support over the winter by offering cash-first approaches where possible. Watch this webinar for examples of how local authorities have used cash-first approaches in their areas or find other ways to support recovery in this short guide.

If you’re a food poverty alliance or food partnership, get in touch with your local authority and ask how they plan to distribute the funds. Can you help them deliver this support or can you offer advice about cash-first approaches? Please do share this webinar or short guide with them.

If you’re in Liverpool and looking for support, please visit the Come2Gether website 

Introduction to Food Insecurity in Liverpool: Definitions, Impact, Measurement, and Next Steps

Prepared By:
Grace Patterson, Research Associate, Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Food Systems

What is food insecurity and how is it measured?

Food insecurity (FI) is defined by the FAO as “a situation that exists when people lack secure access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development and an active and healthy life”. Food security spans four levels: food secure, mild FI, moderate FI, or severe FI.

Food insecurity takes many forms and is often (but not always) related to hunger. Those experiencing food insecurity might have enough to eat but are not able to access the foods they prefer or need. Others might routinely experience an inability to purchase food at the end of each month year-round, while some only experience food insecurity in moments of unforeseen crisis, such as emergency bills or in between jobs. In some cases, children in the household might have enough to eat, but only because caregivers are going without. Therefore, it is difficult to define a “typical” case of food insecurity.

Typically measured at the household measure, there are several validated screeners that provide varying levels of detail on the type and extent of household food security. These include (among others) the nine-question Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS)1, the simple Hunger Vital Sign two-question screener2, and multiple US Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service screening tools of various lengths and language designed for different situations3. These screeners ask questions about people’s worries related to purchasing or having enough food, as well as any times when they were unable to find food to eat. 

In the UK, FI is not measured as a government statistic. Statistics such as food bank usage are often used as proxies but underestimate the true burden of FI4. The March 2021 Department of Work and Pension Family Resources Survey5 has, for the first time, provided some measure of household FI using ten questions from the USDA household FI screening tools. The report indicates that 13% of the population experienced FI (pre-COVID). However, more progress is needed to accurately capture the growing burden of FI in the UK. International groups, such as FAO and UNICEF, calculate nationwide estimates of FI in the UK and other countries. A recent UNICEF study6 found that 19.5% of children under the age of 15 lived with an adult experiencing moderate or severe FI. This statistic placed the UK among the bottom of European countries in terms of child food security. 

What is the context of FI in Liverpool?

FI is commonly associated with specific living conditions, environments, or community groups, such as poverty, rural areas, or single-parent households. However, these associations may change with time and place. In Liverpool (as everywhere) a major driver of FI is economic distress. Liverpool is home to three of the ten most economically deprived food deserts (areas with poor access to food) in England, where poor food access and economic insufficiency intersect7. As data on FI is not directly collected in Liverpool, it is difficult to know exactly which populations are experiencing FI. Proxy metrics that indicate the level of FI among economically distressed groups include data on eligibility for and uptake of Free School Meals and Healthy Start Uptake and Universal Credit and jobless claims, however, these data are usually not given at a granular enough level for detailed analysis.

Other major groups in Liverpool that may struggle with FI include ethnic minorities and asylum seekers who struggle to access culturally acceptable foods, as well as those with disabilities, in long-term care, or shielding. These groups may also struggle for economic reasons but are also likely impacted by poor access, whether in terms of store availability or other access issues such as digital exclusion. COVID-19 has somewhat altered the demographics of foodbank use, with the need expanding and shifting as people’s living conditions and livelihoods were upended8. The long-term impact of the pandemic on patterns of food insecurity in the region remains to be seen as restrictions relax and societal (and personal) recovery unfolds.

Encouragingly, Liverpool has many assets in food provision and local food systems, including a strong emergency provision network, expanding associations of empowering community pantries, innovative social enterprises and food businesses, and swelling local interest in small food businesses and locally produced foods. Liverpool is geographically positioned in a region with a port that plays a role in food and agricultural product import and export. In the Liverpool local authority across 56 farm holdings, farmers are growing increasing numbers of livestock in the grasslands surrounding the city22. In the wider North West, these grasslands support livestock and dairy production, and farming employs approximately 40,000 people23. The tourist economy also supports many food-related jobs. Finally, there is strong organizational support and interest around food security in Liverpool, as evidenced by participation in the Right to Food Campaign, the End Hunger UK Campaign, and others.

How has FI changed in Liverpool over time?

From 2010-2020, trends of increasing life expectancy, decreasing mortality, and reductions in poverty across the UK slowed, and in some cases reversed9. While quality data on food insecurity levels over this time period is not available, other statistics such as child poverty and food bank usage can help paint a picture of the state of food security over time. In 2018, child poverty levels exceeded pre-2010 levels, at 30% (after housing costs). These numbers were over 40% for households with single parents, more than three children, or ethnic minorities. The number of those in work experiencing poverty has also increased in this time period, from 3 million in 2010 to 3.7 million in 2017. Rates of poverty are highest among people from ethnic minorities or with a disability, or both. The number of people on zero-hours contracts in the UK has also skyrocketed, from 168,000 people in 2010 to nearly 900,000 in 2018. The strength of support benefits has also decreased over this time, with tighter restrictions on accessing programmes like Healthy Start, and reductions in food welfare budgets. The number of Trussell Trust network food banks has exploded from 65 in 2011 to 1,200 in 2019.

This widening of social and health inequities has been particularly strong in the North, as well as among the most deprived 10% of neighborhoods. In Liverpool in 2019, 49% of all LSOAs fell among the 10% most deprived in England10 and have been among the most deprived local authorities for the past 15 years. Life expectancy at birth, overall health, and spending on social services have all worsened disproportionately in more deprived areas compared to less deprived areas, further exacerbating existing inequities9. In fact, funding cuts in UK cities and towns from 2010 to 2018 were the most extreme in Liverpool, where they equated to a decrease of £816 per resident per year. Together, these statistics suggest that food insecurity has also likely increased in Liverpool over the last 10 years, especially among those living in areas of high deprivation.

Health and Wellbeing Impacts of FI

FI is associated with poor health outcomes such as malnutrition, obesity, nutrition-related non-communicable diseases, and depression11,12. Liverpool experiences significantly worse health outcomes than the England average, many of which are frequently related to FI or poor diet. A summary of the Liverpool Local Authority Health Profile shows that the region experiences worse rates of cardiovascular mortality, cancer mortality, adult and child obesity, and long-term disability than the England average (but comparable or lower levels of hypertension and diabetes)13.

FI impacts people of all ages and has intergenerational effects. Even moderate FI can impact child development14, future educational and economic attainment15, mental health16, and socialisation and wellbeing12,17, in turn contributing to wider socioeconomic and health disparities as they grow into adulthood. Food-based coping skills and unhealthy food behaviours formed in the context of childhood FI usually persist into adulthood18. Adults experiencing FI often also experience stress and anxiety, particularly if they are concerned about providing for other family members, and rely on unhealthy food-based coping habits19. In highly developed countries such as the UK, FI is associated with obesity, vitamin deficiencies, and increased chronic disease due to increased reliance on processed foods, inability to access healthy diets, and changes in metabolism associated with inadequate nutrition20. Seniors with FI can also experience poorer mental health, reduced nutrient intake, and limitations in completing daily activities11. FI, therefore, has the potential to impact people of any age, in multiple facets of their life.

Evidence for Reducing FI 

There are many programs in place with the aim to reduce FI across different vulnerable groups and through the actions of different organizations in society. However, evidence supporting the effectiveness of these interventions is often lacking or anecdotal. Reliable quantitative and qualitative data on the effectiveness of interventions can be useful to win support and funding for the expansion of interventions, to identify unintended effects of the intervention (positive or negative), and to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the program. 

Economic constraints are among the most commonly reported barriers to consuming a healthy diet. Many other issues stem from economic issues, such as access to transportation, shops, proper cooking appliances, and implements. While most people know what a healthy diet looks like, many fail to achieve it due to lack of access, perceived inconvenience, or lack of sufficient motivation. The modern food environment is saturated with advertisements and promotions heavily skewed towards the consumption of foods high in salt, sugar, and/or fat overconsumption of minimally processed, whole foods. Therefore, actions that target personal behavior change (such as educational campaigns) are relatively ineffective if carried out in absence of increased economic support and changes to the environment in which dietary choices are made. Methods to address this environmental component include bans on advertising to children or increasing access to affordable produce in underserved regions. Finally, consideration must be given to the idea of food as a means of connecting with others, creative expression, a celebration of culture, and autonomy. Long-term solutions for healthy eating require building knowledge, skills, and behaviors in a safe environment and empowering people to experiment with food and take ownership of their dietary choices.

Overall, data on the effectiveness of interventions against FI is lacking in the UK compared to countries such as Australia, Canada, and the US. However, we can assume that the many similarities between these countries will often allow for the extrapolation of their findings to the UK. The Centre for Food Policy at City, University London has recently compiled a list of 42 actions across agriculture, international trade, research, supply chains, finance, education, regulation, and more that are evidence-backed and have a strong chance to reduce FI21. During the development of the Good Food Plan, we have produced a similar, but more focused catalogue of actions to be taken at the local level to reduce FI in Liverpool, including short-term “band-aid” actions and more long-term, strategic actions. Detail on the specifics of different interventions can be found in the document. 

Measuring Impact

As previously discussed, FI is poorly measured and described in Liverpool (and the UK). To monitor the impact of interventions going forward, it is imperative that we can routinely measure food insecurity at a population level (less frequently) and in key/accessible demographics (more frequently). Good data infrastructure is critical for rapid identification of and response to spikes of food insecurity, as well as long term planning and management. This will require collaboration between different data collection agencies and development of data sharing and management protocols. The newly developed Liverpool Civic Data Collective may be able to help make this a reality.

Short-term steps to improve FI monitoring in Liverpool include identifying proxies that are collected at a spatially fine enough level to be helpful, finding data that is collected routinely enough to be helpful, and finding data that is shareable. Beyond measuring FI directly, there are many proxies and indicators of FI and related risk factors that can be monitored to give a glimpse of the state of FI in Liverpool and measure any progress over time (see spreadsheet). These span health, jobs, economics, household composition, etc. Care must be given to identify proxies that match expected rate of change from the intervention and are collected at logical timepoints. When launching new interventions, thought should be given to developing a data collection plan alongside the intervention to ensure data on implementation and effectiveness will be collected. Longer term, plans should be developed to routinely sample for FI in the city using existing community connections and employing a validated screener. Measuring the problem of FI is integral to developing effective plans to defeat it, and to inspiring others to persist in the effort year after year.


1 Coates J, Swindale A, Bilinsky P. Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS) for measurement of food access: Indicator Guide (v. 3). Washington, DC, 2007

2 Hager ER, Quigg AM, Black MM, et al. Development and validity of a 2-item screen to identify families at risk for food insecurity. Pediatrics 2010; 126. DOI:10.1542/peds.2009-3146.

3 USDA ERS. Food Security in the US: Survey Tools. 2020.

4 University of Oxford, The Food Foundation, Sustain. Measuring household food insecurity in the UK and why we MUST do it: 4 facts you should know. London, 2016.

5 Department for Work and Pensions. National Statistics: Family Resources Survey: financial year 2019 to 2020. 2021

6 Pereira AL, Handa S, G. Holmqvist. Prevalence and Correlates of Food Insecurity among Children across the Globe. Florence, 2017

7 Kellog, Social Market Foundation. Can everyone access affordable, nutritious food ? 2018.

8 Loopstra R. Vulnerability to food insecurity since the COVID-19 lockdown: Preliminary report. 2020

9 Marmot M, Allen J, Boyce T, et al. Health Equity In England: The Marmot Review 10 Years On. London, 2020.

10 Liverpool City Council. The Index of Multiple Deprivation 2019: A Liverpool Analysis. Liverpool, 2020.

11 Gundersen C, Ziliak JP. Food insecurity and health outcomes. Health Aff 2015; 34: 1830–9.

12 McIntyre L, Williams JVA, Lavorato DH, Patten S. Depression and suicide ideation in late adolescence and early adulthood are an outcome of child hunger. J Affect Disord 2013. DOI:10.1016/j.jad.2012.11.029.

13 PHE. Public Health Profiles. 2019.

14 Aceves-Martins M, Cruickshank M, Fraser C, Brazzelli M. Child food insecurity in the UK: a rapid review. Public Heal Res 2018; 6: 1–162.

15 Howard LL. Does food insecurity at home affect non-cognitive performance at school? A longitudinal analysis of elementary student classroom behavior. Econ Educ Rev 2011; 30: 157–76.

16 Heflin C, Kukla-Acevedo S, Darolia R. Adolescent food insecurity and risky behaviors and mental health during the transition to adulthood. Child Youth Serv Rev 2019; 105. DOI:10.1016/j.childyouth.2019.104416.

17 Ashiabi GS, O’Neal KK. A framework for understanding the association between food insecurity and children’s developmental outcomes. Child Dev Perspect 2008; 2: 71–7.

18 Scaglioni S, De Cosmi V, Ciappolino V, Parazzini F, Brambilla P, Agostoni C. Factors influencing children’s eating behaviours. Nutrients 2018; 10. DOI:10.3390/nu10060706.

19 Puddephatt J-A, Keenan GS, Fielden A, Reaves DL, Halford JCG, Hardman CA. ‘Eating to survive’: A qualitative analysis of factors influencing food choice and eating behaviour in a food-insecure population. Appetite 2020; 147: 104547.

20 Castillo DC, Ramsey NLM, Yu SSK, Ricks M, Courville AB, Sumner AE. Inconsistent Access to Food and Cardiometabolic Disease: The Effect of Food Insecurity. Curr Cardiovasc Risk Rep 2012; 6: 245–50.

21 Hawkes C, Walton S, Haddad L, Fanzo J. 42 Policies and Actions To Orient Food Systems Towards Healthier Diets for All. Centre for Food Policy Research. 2020;

22 Defra. Structure of the agricultural industry in England and the UK at June. April 2021. . Accessed July 8, 2021

23 National Farmer’s Union: North West Office. Back British farmers in the North West. . Accessed July 8, 2021.

Doodles against Poverty: re-framing our conversations

All of us talk about poverty regularly – whether we work in an organisation on the frontline of poverty or not, we habitually react and comment on what we read in the news and see in social media about poverty in our country. We notice signs of poverty in our communities and make ‘off the cuff’ comments to our friends, colleagues, those we pass by about the state of poverty in the UK.

Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) identified three common beliefs held about poverty in the UK today. These permeate into our thoughts and those casual comments we make:

1.   We are post poverty – with many believing that poverty doesn’t exist in our country today. Frequently we refer back to images we have seen of poverty in other parts of the world, setting up an ‘us and them’ dichotomy.

2.   Poverty is self-made – when people acknowledge poverty in our country they believe that it is a result of people’s own making. If only they tried harder or worked more they would not be in poverty.

3.   The game is rigged – that there will always be poverty in the world and that nothing will ever change that.

When combined the effects of these beliefs mean that poverty often gets dismissed out of hand or is seen as inevitable and impossible change.


Telling a new story

We need to tell a new story about poverty – framing it in a way so we can build public and political will to solve it. We need to frame our story and solutions in ways people will hear and respond to.

‘Framing’ means making deliberate choices about how we communicate – both in our formal outputs – reports, blog posts, tweets – but also in our everyday conversations. It is about understanding how people think and feel, and telling stories that have the potential to change hearts and minds.

JRF argue that we need to frame poverty as a problem that can be solved – and make it clear that benefits are part of the solution, not the problem itself.



They found that using the language of compassion and justice was a more effective way to connect with people’s emotions than language about equality and fairness.

Metaphors are a powerful tool to help people understand poverty and related issues – JRF have produced simple effective cartoons to help us frame poverty:


Simple Swaps

JRF’s research found that there are several simple, effective ‘swaps’ we can make when talking about poverty.

Two we can begin to use in our everyday conversations could be:

SWAP “It’s not fair” for “It’s not right” – this connects with people’s sense of compassion and justice and moves away from a points scoring criteria about fairness

SWAP “Living in poverty” for “locked into poverty” – this conveys the image of poverty being an involuntary restraint that stops people from choosing their own path.

Stop, frame, repeat

It’s going to take time, and practice to re-frame how we think and communicate about poverty.

We will all make mistakes along the way.

Let’s take an extra moment before we speak or write to choose our words and images with care, so together we can work towards solving poverty in the in UK.


Want to find out more about framing? Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s framing toolkit is the perfect place to start.

All cartoons used in this blog belong to JRF / Frameworks and can be found in their Framing Toolkit.

Did you eat your breakfast? A poem by Sarah Grant

Did you eat your breakfast

have you had your toast

jam and butter melted

just when you get your post

a cup of tea

a bowl of porridge

here to provide you

the best meal of the day

no one and nothing

to get in your way


How was lunch

or did you have

an early brunch

beans on toast

leftover roast

a selection of sandwiches

to share with your host

an essential to guide you

through the rest of your day

until it is time to sit and pray


Come for afternoon tea

cakes for you and me

little cream slices

triangle squares

pretty plates with

matching saucers

triple stands overflowing

our bellies ever knowing

a ready supply

I do not lie


Let’s dress for dinner

make an effort

sausage and mash

always a winner

gravy and peas

custard and cheese

cakes of queens

with strawberry hats

wearing posh dresses

high heels with our besties


Just along down the road

at number two

there’s a family there

a bit like you
the day has been busy

the moment too long

unfortunately there’s no treats to come along

they’ve worked really hard

sung all of the rhyme

but there’s no food

for this tea time

the cupboards are empty

the fridge is all bare

where is the food

that should be there


We have to take note

we have to take action

no one to live

with this unsatisfaction

we fed ourselves

but not the few

unable to buy food

like me and you

but they are me and you

at number two

they’re our neighbour’s

our friends

let’s make amends

End Hunger now

to bring food to the table

of someone less able

this story is

not just a fable.


Copyrighted 2020 S Grant 01/05/2020

An Open Letter to Kim Johnson MP from Feeding Liverpool

Kim Johnson, MP,

Liverpool Riverside

Dear Kim,
I am writing as a trustee of Micah Liverpool, on behalf of Feeding Liverpool and our partners across Liverpool. We want to ask you to raise in Parliament, the key role our food partnership has taken on in the local emergency food response to Covid-19, helping to keep local communities fed and local businesses going. We work with a small staff resource and a wide range of volunteers, both now and preceding the pandemic to
ensure our residents, refugees and asylum seekers have access to healthy and sustainable food.

We think this is a better way of Government supporting communities with emergency food both during and in recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, as it is one which support local assets, responds to local needs and provides better return on public investment’

This work has proven to be invaluable locally, but we are aware that not all areas have resource or local authority support to set up a food partnership or keep it going, and we want your help in changing this.

We ask you to highlight the local examples outlined in this letter and urge Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, to support the establishment of a local food partnership in every local authority area in the UK.

We are a member of the UK Sustainable Food Places Network (SFP) since 2014, SFP is organising a Day of Celebration and Action 10th of June to showcase the incredible work local food partnerships are doing across the UK to meet the needs arising from the current crisis while continuing to work towards a healthy, equitable and sustainable food system for all. The Day of Celebration is happening on social media under the hashtag #goodfoodtogether. Alongside this celebration, the SFP Network is calling on the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick MP to support one food partnership in every local area. The letter has the support of over 30 leading national food and farming organisations including the Food Foundation, FareShare, the Royal Society for Public Health, the Food Farming and Countryside Commission, N8 AgriFood programme, the London Food Board as well as Councillors, Directors of Public Health and prominent academics and experts including Professor Tim Lang and Jeanette Orrey MBE.

As you know the situation is changing on a daily basis; the demographic of recipients is also changing somewhat due to changes in circumstances of families and individuals. Below are just a few snapshots of the amazing work we and our local partners across public, community and the business sectors have been involved in, both during and before the pandemic.

Led by an ecumenical steering group, Feeding Liverpool is made up of a network of people who are
concerned about hunger and food insecurity Liverpool. Together we want to transform the unjust structures within our society that contribute to the root causes of food poverty.

In ‘normal’ times the aims of Feeding Liverpool are to:

Create arenas for practitioners to share and shape good practices in relation to tackling hunger and food insecurity in Liverpool
Draw on experiences from the ground to contribute to and influence policy debates locally and nationally
Raise awareness and develop greater public understanding of food policy and related issues
Our usual role has involved supporting a wide range of organisations that provide food aid, but not
delivering front line services ourselves.

Since CV-19, however, Feeding Liverpool has played a key role in the procurement and distribution of food supplies to support vulnerable households across Liverpool, using funds secured through our relationship with Feeding Britain (

Since the start of April we have supported the food supply of organisations who together have distributed 7,654 food parcels to households across Liverpool. We have also distributed 1416 ambient ready meals and
600 activity packs aimed at children aged 4 – 7 years.

Feeding Liverpool’s partners are involved directly in providing food aid to people across the city. Most work in partnership with FareShare; in addition, local people, groups and organisations have been really generous in supporting work with most vulnerable. Just a few examples of the work during the CV19 pandemic
is briefly outlined here: –

Micah Liverpool has continued socially distanced,
face to face food bank in two venues, on the road outside St Vincent’s church, and on the steps of St Bride’s church. The impact of CV19 has seen an increase in need, in May we fed 1318 people per week, including 260 families with children. The demographic of recipients prior to CV19 were predominantly asylum seekers, this has changed. There has been an increase in families accessing the food bank at St Brides, an increase in the number of homeless; victims of domestic violence and those awaiting Universal Credit payments.

Due to the difficulty of social distancing the other food banks have had to be innovative and creative and consider other ways of feeding hungry people. The North and South Liverpool Foodbank have changed the way they work, delivering food to local addresses in May their combined delivery was 951 food parcels including 322 households with children.

St Georges Pantry has continued to support households in Everton ward to access affordable, nutritious food. Pantry members can receive weekly food parcel delivery
including fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and ambient, chilled and frozen
products. During May 2020, 78 different households were supported with 269
deliveries, including 150 deliveries to households with children. An increase of 84 food parcels from April to May.

Pantry membership normally costs £3.50 per week; membership fees were waved during April and May due to the generous support of the ward councillor. They have a team of 12 volunteers who have supported the pantry during this time.

Nugent care provide a food market in Epsom Street, during May they provided 349 food parcels, 93 to
households with children.

Kensington Fields Community Association have provided 1905 food parcels during May, including 1327 to households with children.

Liverpool 11 food hub comprising 7 organisations in the local area provided 277 emergency food
parcels in May, 125 to households with children.

During the pandemic as you will know a number of COViD groups that have set up across the city and in each community with support from local councillors. Some provide hot meals. Many more people are volunteering their time to cook, donate, deliver and care for their family, friends, neighbours, those with underlying
conditions and the most vulnerable in society.

Sharing and adopting models of good practice in other places

Feeding Liverpool is part of the wider Sustainable Food Places Network that enables practitioners generously to share what they are doing, how they are overcoming common barriers, and what funding and services can be drawn on to support the Covid-19 emergency food response and work around securing healthy and
sustainable food locally more generally. The Network runs webinars publishes guidance and connects with those with professional expertise on a variety of food issues and practices.

Feeding Liverpool is an ecumenical partnership which aims to bring together a range of partners to listen and
capture the voices and stories of those closest to delivery of food aid.

Our food partnership is a cross-sector partnership including: Together Liverpool, Micah Liverpool; North
Liverpool Foodbank; South Liverpool Foodbank; St Andrews Pantry; St Georges Pantry Everton; Liverpool 11 Hub; FareShare; Christ Church Toxteth Park; Nugent Care, Epsom Street; L6 Centre; Mencap; Foodcycle; Croxteth Gems; Triple C; Rhys Jones Centre; Croxteth Family Matters; Kinship Carers; Norris Green Community Alliance; Kensington Fields Community Centre; Liverpool Food Action
Network; Liverpool City Council benefit maximisation team and public health, Housing Associations and Citizens Advice Bureau.

We are a member of the Sustainable Food Places Network (previously called Sustainable Food Cities) one of the fastest-growing social movements nationally, bringing together over 60 food partnerships from towns, cities, boroughs, districts and counties across the UK that are driving innovation and good practice on all aspects of healthy and sustainable food.

We would welcome an opportunity to present the extraordinary work of our members in more detail and any future connection with you on food matters that impact your constituents in Liverpool Riverside.

Yours sincerely,

Annette James

Trustee Micah Liverpool

On behalf of Feeding Liverpool

Plenty to Share: Food Abundance and Equality Declaration

Feeding Liverpool are proud to have signed the Food Abundance and Equality Declaration, along with nearly 40 organisations, including IFAN, Green Peace, Friends of the Earth and Feeding Britain.

Find out more via this article in The Big Issue: ‘System in crisis’ as ministers fail to fight food waste and poverty | The Big Issue

Read the declaration below and find out more about the campaign: Plenty to Share – This is Rubbish

We the undersigned believe in creating a world without food waste or poverty.

We believe that this will be achieved by designing an economic system which wastes less and shares more equally.

Many of us have worked hard to get surplus food to those most in need through food banks and charities, seeing the urgent needs of hungry people suffering. But this too, as becomes painfully apparent when doing this work, is only a short-term sticking plaster.

The abundance of food we grow and agricultural land we use to grow it should not be wasted in the first place. In a world that is richer than any time in history, and in the sixth richest country in the world[i], nobody should go hungry or need to rely on food charities to survive.

We believe that we have an abundance of wealth, food and land for everyone globally to enjoy a good quality of life on a safe planet, if we redesign the system to waste less and share our abundance more equally. Ultimately, food waste and poverty require two separate sets of systemic solutions. We thus call for the following systemic shifts:

1) Wasting less: We need to design food waste out of the industrial food system – including through regulation, ambitious government action and more equal sharing of the risks and costs of food waste by businesses causing waste – to reduce emissions, free up grassland to plant trees and restore nature, and free up cropland to grow food sustainably so everyone has enough to eat.

2) Sharing more equally: We need to design poverty out of the system so nobody goes hungry, by sharing wealth more equally, strengthening social safety nets, and designing a food system based on people’s needs not profit, to ensure everyone can afford to eat healthy, sustainable and culturally appropriate food.


We live in a world of abundance.

There is enough food produced globally to feed everyone on the planet, plus the people expected on the planet by 2050[i] – but an estimated third of this food is currently wasted[ii]. The cropland freed up by halving UK food waste could produce enough food to feed 28% of the UK population[iii].

But simply ending food waste, or producing more food, will not automatically get food into the hands of those who need it. To do that, we need to end poverty itself.

There is enough money globally to end food poverty multiple times over – but the richest 1% own 44% of the world’s wealth[iv] whilst approximately a quarter of the world’s people are moderately to severely food insecure[v] and nearly half live on less than $5.50 a day (about £4 a day)[vi]. Just 5% of all new income generated since 1990 went to the poorest 60% of humanity – at this rate, to ensure every person earns above $5/day (about £3.70 a day) the global economy would have to grow to 175 times its present size[vii], impossible within environmental limits.

There is enough wealth in the UK to end poverty many times over – but currently over half of the UK’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of the richest tenth of people[viii], whilst an estimated 10% of people (8.4 million) in the UK live in food insecure households[ix].

There is enough money and expertise to save humanity and nature from climate crisis – but only if the richest countries act quickly enough. The richest 10% of people globally already cause half of global emissions, whilst the poorest 50% will bear the brunt of climate crisis despite causing only a tenth of global emissions[x]. Even within the UK, the lifestyles of the richest 10% cause roughly 5 times more emissions per person than the poorest 50%[xi]. Those most responsible for climate change are also those most able to avert it – richer countries need to reduce their emissions as close to zero as possible within the next decade to save us all[xii].

There is enough land globally to restore nature, end species extinction and help avert climate crisis. The FAO estimate that 28% of the world’s agricultural land is used to produce food that is wasted – equivalent to the landmass of India and China combined[xiii]. Halving UK food waste and planting trees on the grassland freed up by this would not only create 3 million hectares of woodland but result in emissions reduction greater than the entire UK agriculture sector[xiv].


There is enough – if we design a system which wastes less and shares more equally within environmental limits.


[i] Stuart, T. (2009) Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal. London: Penguin.

[ii] FAO (2011) Global food losses and food waste: extent, causes and prevention. Rome: FAO. Available at:

[iii] Feedback (2020) Bad Energy: Defining the Role of Biogas in a Net Zero Future. London: Feedback. Available at: (Accessed: 11 September 2020).

[iv] Credit Suisse (2020) Global Wealth Report 2019. Credit Suisse. Available at: (Accessed: 9 November 2020).

[v] FAO and IFAD (2020) The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020: Transforming food systems for affordable healthy diets. Rome, Italy: FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO (The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI), 2020). doi: 10.4060/ca9692en.

[vi] World Bank (2018) Nearly Half the World Lives on Less than $5.50 a Day, World Bank. Available at: (Accessed: 11 September 2020).

[vii] Woodward, D. (2015) ‘Incrementum ad Absurdum: Global Growth, Inequality and Poverty Eradication in a Carbon-Constrained World’, World Economic Review, 4, pp. 43–62.

[viii] In most European countries, the richest 10% own roughly 60% of the wealth, and the poorest half of the population own less than 5%. Source: Piketty, T. (2014) Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Harvard University Press. p. 257
The estimate that in the UK the richest 10% of households hold over 50% of the UK’s wealth is likely to be an underestimate. Source: Alvaredo, F., Atkinson, A. B. and Morelli, S. (2016) ‘The Challenge of Measuring UK Wealth Inequality in the 2000s’, Fiscal Studies, 37(1), pp. 13–33. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-5890.2016.12084.

[ix] End Hunger UK (2019) ‘UK food poverty now a public health emergency’, End Hunger UK, 7 February. Available at: (Accessed: 4 September 2020).

[x] Oxfam (2015) Extreme Carbon Inequality. Oxfam. Available at: p. 4

[xi] Oxfam (2015) Extreme Carbon Inequality. Oxfam. Available at: p. 7

[xii] Civil Society Review (2018) After Paris: Inequality, Fair Shares, and the Climate Emergency – A Civil Society Science and Equity-Based Assessment of the NDCs. Civil Society Review. Available at: (Accessed: 31 August 2019).

Climate Equity Reference (2019) Climate Equity Reference Calculator, Climate Equity Reference Calculator. Available at: (Accessed: 30 August 2019).

[xiii] FAO (2013) Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on natural resources – Summary report. Rome: FAO.

[xiv] Feedback (2020) Bad Energy: Defining the Role of Biogas in a Net Zero Future. London: Feedback. Available at: (Accessed: 11 September 2020).

[i] IMF (2020) International Monetary Fund World Economic Outlook (October – 2019) – GDP statistics, International Monetary Fund. Available at: (Accessed: 4 September 2020).

Hilary Russell Awarded Prestigious Lambeth Award

Feeding Liverpool’s co-chair of trustees Dr Hilary Russell has been honoured with a community service award from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Hilary, a founding member of Feeding Liverpool, is among 36 people recognised for outstanding contributions to the Church and wider society, in the Archbishop’s 2021 Lambeth Awards.

She has received the Langton Award for Community Service, in recognition of her: “exceptional work initiating and supporting the social justice ministry of the Church and the churches – particularly relating to sustainable and affordable food policy in Liverpool

Hilary, who is a retired Professor of Urban Policy at Liverpool John Moores University, has spent the last 60 years dedicated to helping tackle social inequality through her academic career, Christian ministry and social action.

In her award citation Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby described Hilary as a ‘generous’, ‘courageous’, and ethical Liverpool civic leader.

The award citation reads: “Hilary is a humble woman who challenges injustice in ways that serve the common good.

“This is most evident in her work with Feeding Liverpool – where she leads the conversations around affordable and sustainable food policy; and as a trustee of Together Liverpool – which she served as Chair for many years and where she now represents the charity in local and national conversations concerning local issues, where she has made an outstanding contribution.”

Hilary said: “I am privileged to receive this award alongside such a wonderful cohort of inspirational people. It is also testament to the dedication, faith and generosity of many people I have been able to work with over the years as we strive to work towards a fairer society.

“I hope that it helps highlight issues of social injustice and the need for greater equality in the distribution of resources, and that it might encourage more people to use their gifts to find ways to get involved in social action to make a bigger difference in our communities.”

Interviewed recently by Together Liverpool about the award Hilary said:

“As elsewhere in Britain, there are people struggling on low incomes, whether it’s those with no recourse to public funds, those whose benefits are inadequate, or those who are employed getting too low a wage to afford sufficient food. There are also issues about access to affordable healthy food.

“An important part of the work of both Together Liverpool and Feeding Liverpool is about moving on from emergency food provision to supporting the development of more resilience and sustainable solutions to food insecurity, like pantries and community shops. I am very encouraged by the work that is happening in Liverpool.

“Feeding Liverpool is at the heart of a huge effort in the city with the public sector working with Voluntary, Community and Faith Sector partners to develop a strategic plan of activity.

“It has been heartening to see the wider benefits of the food work done by Feeding Liverpool and all its partners – not just helping food to reach the people who need it most, but also fostering a real sense of community and bringing people together – in a properly socially distanced way!

“It‘s not only about food, but also about supporting people experiencing financial insecurity, with activities like welfare advice, debt counselling, homelessness provision. In all these areas, churches are very much a part of the response to social injustice.”

The Feeding Liverpool steering group would like to thank Hilary for her longstanding service and commitment to tackling injustice across our city.