Aim: to ensure that all children and young people in Leeds have access to enough food with appropriate nutritional value.
There is (albeit somewhat limited) research that shows the relationship between nutrition, the physical condition of families and their financial status. (M’Gonigle and Kirby 1936). There has been no national survey of nutrition and diet in low income families since the second world war, and the construction of the British welfare system has largely bi-passed the issue of food stability (particularly the importance of nutrition), beyond children of school age. However, there are greater consequences on health for families on long term welfare: it is difficult to live on welfare without cutting down on essential expenditure and there is much concern over the choices families make in the supermarket when on limited budgets. There has been a fairly unchallenged assumption that the provision of food is the responsibility of the private sphere (Dowler, E. (2002) Food and Poverty in Britain: Rights and Responsibilities).
Key discussion points
- access, availability and affordability of food are important contributing factors to health;
- food is also an expression of a person’s worth – if we as a society allow children to have no food in the house because of the health/welfare of their family, what does this say about our society or community in which we live?.
- all children should have the right to sufficient healthy food and as a consequence, policy response should take into account the relationship between food and poverty outside of the school sphere;
- all children, regardless of wealth should receive free school meals as part of our commitment to ensuring children receive sufficient nutritious food.