Report Synopsis

What part can farmers play in reducing food poverty in the UK?

Rob Mercer

My Nuffield Farming study has evolved from being focused on adding value and developing a pig business to looking at how I can contribute to challenges around food poverty and healthy eating in this country.

Research has shown me that food security in families is a real issue in the UK and that it is often linked to poverty. There are 8 million people in UK suffering from food insecurity (1).Food poverty is also to do with the quality of people’s diets. On average the poorer people are, the worse their diet, and the more diet-related diseases they suffer from. Poor diet is related to 30% of life’s lost years according the Faculty of Public Health (2) and poorer people are more likely to die younger as a result of poor diet. Not only is this not right in a country with so much wealth as the UK but it also contributes a huge economic toll both on the NHS and the wider economy. Food poverty could become an increasing problem in the UK as food prices increase, incomes stagnate and household fixed costs increase. Food is seen by some people as a flexible expense and not only can people go without food at times but they can substitute healthy food for cheaper, poor quality food which may have consequences on the health of the individual.

My focus has been to set up a charity promoting fresh produce and healthy eating to families from poorer demographics, influencing them to eat more fresh fruit, vegetables and meat and less processed food. The charity “Farm Fresh Revolution” distributes fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and eggs to parents whose children are at primary schools where a high percentage of the families have an income of less than £12,000 per year.

The charity currently works with 6 schools in Staffordshire with the aim of increasing this number to 12. The plan is to gather research statistics from this charity over the next academic year on the impact this is having and to try and come up with a proposal for the industry, on how we can replicate this around the UK.

Information on the charity can be found at www.farmfreshrevolution.com

I hope that through setting an example of how a farmer can contribute to alleviating food poverty, I can help influence policy makers and contribute to society.

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