Public Health Dorset’s Hidden Hunger campaigners say local residents are facing food insecurity.
The problem involves people not having access to enough, or to good quality, healthy food.
The UK government’s estimated recommendations for a healthy, balanced diet, is £42 per week per person. According to Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole council, 46% of the Dorset population are not spending enough money on food. Almost half of all residents in roughly 165,000 households. Many of these being families with children.
At the conference in Poole, this September, one resident said: “I’m worried and scared. I won’t eat for a week or two. Last week I didn’t eat because I was worried I wouldn’t have enough food to give my son. It effects your depression even more as well, makes you feel even more useless. It’s horrible having to rely on the government and the council. I’m a mum, I have a child. I should be able to do this myself and I can’t.”
Councillor Vikki Slade, Leader of BCP Council, said: “There are a lot of people with a lot of pride who would really worry about telling people what’s really going on. I’m thrilled that we’ve come together as a partnership to try and make a difference and dispel some of the myths. These are families, grandparents, children, hard-working people, who are struggling, and this shouldn’t be happening in the 21st century.”
Mental health concerns
Residents also expressed feelings of shame for not being able to feed themselves and their families. People are becoming worried about the impact this access to healthy food will have on their family lives as well as their mental and physical health.
One told the conference: “Hunger does things to you. It makes you sad, it makes you sleepy, it makes you not want to do anything because you’ve got no energy.”
Public Health Dorset, BCP Council and the Bournemouth and Poole Sustainable Food Cities Partnership are working together to tackle this growing concern. There are community fridges in Boscombe and Bridport as well as food banks across the area that are available to anyone struggling with these issues.