Children are going hungry – shouldn’t we say something?


Pete Ritchie asks if the third sector is making enough noise about malnutrition and the impact of poor diet

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9th June 2015 by TFN Guest 1 Comment

At last Thursday’s Scottish Charity Awards dinner, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon emphasised that charities do more than provide services: they empower communities and they influence government policy. 

To underline the point, Matthew McVarish was chosen as charity champion for his advocacy work, working to end the silence around child sexual abuse.

So, in the immortal words of Robert Peston, here’s the thing: shouldn’t we be making a bit more collective noise about children going hungry in Scotland?  And shouldn’t we be saying something about the contribution of our food system to creating chronic disease?

Of course the priority for people affected by cancer, or heart disease, or diabetes is better services.  We need support for families and carers, and we need to keep researching new treatments and cures.  

Pete Ritchie

Pete Ritchie

One in twenty cancers is linked to eating too little fruit and vegetables

But food matters too: according to Cancer Research UK, one in twenty cancers is linked to eating too little fruit and vegetables. 

One in twenty Scots has Type 2 diabetes, up from one in 100 a generation ago: this is closely linked to the rise in obesity over the same period.  The National Audit Office estimates that 47% of type II diabetes cases are obesity-related.  

The World Heart Federation estimates that a diet low in saturated fats, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables reduces the risk of new major cardiac events by 73% compared to the typical diet of someone living in the developed world.

So now is a good time for the charities working on these issues to say something about the need to make good food affordable, accessible and attractive to all.. and that includes children.

We charities seem to have been a bit quiet lately about hungry children in Scotland.  In 2012 Save the Children found that a quarter of low-income parents frequently skip meals and one in seven children in these families regularly do not get enough to eat.

Just in time for the Charity Awards dinner last week, the head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) called for a global movement to eradicate hunger as countries look ahead to the new set of development goals that will be adopted in September. 

These UN goals apply to Scotland too: now’s a good time for our charities to work together to influence government policy. Do we want Scottish Government to sign up to the UN’s Zero Hunger Challenge? Sorry, didn’t quite catch that.  You’ll have to speak up, it’s noisy.

Pete Ritchie is director of Nourish Scotland

5th July 2015 by Trevor

they don't care Pete. all they want is as much money out the pockets of the parents as possible. the supermarkets don't care either. because they are only interested in profit. when you have a set up like that you can be absolutely certain that health problems and malnutrition will abound. time and time again people say that "good food is increasingly expensive" while unhealthy food is often cheap. do we see the supermarkets falling over themselves to help? very rarely if ever at all. instead they just respond by manipulating us and so you have shops like lidl that like to exalt itself as being "customer friendly" and though it is true that they do sell food which is often much cheaper than other supermarkets, but a cheap price doesn't mean that the contents of whatever is brought and eaten is "health friendly" often in fact more and more Lidl stocks food that is high in sat fats and salt for example. so though they spare us in terms of money they fail in terms of health. and because most employers don't want to pay their staff a so called "living wage" that means that parents who work but earn peanuts are forced to buy and feed their children poor quality food. I hear very often people phoning up talk radio stations to condemn parents that don't look after their children properly, but in their haste to play judge and jury they forget the reality of the minimum wage and how that also makes it difficult for parents to keep a roof over the heads of themselves and their children. and now that "frank field" of the "on the side of the working class" party is on a mission to get tax credits abolished you can be certain that child malnutrition will increase. I feel so sorry for every parent with children that struggles to keep them well fed and clothed under the increasingly difficult system in this country.