Childhood food poverty in the UK

No child should go hungry

As part of the launch of our Food Systems Policy Hub, Dr J. Bernadette Moore and Dr Charlotte Evans from the School of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds, explored how we can tackle childhood food poverty in a webinar on Tuesday 10 November.

The webinar and panel discussion considered how over the last 10 years the number of children in the UK living with food poverty has increased, alongside a rise in childhood obesity.

With Marcus Rashford’s school dinners campaign, there is increasing momentum towards tackling childhood food poverty. This online event explored the current situation including social and economic pressures of COVID-19 and Brexit, which are posing additional challenges. The panel examined current community efforts aimed at mitigating food poverty and deliberated priority areas for policy action at both local and national levels.

  • Denise Bentley, Co-founder and Chief Executive, First Love Foundation – Insights from the National Food Strategy
  • Kim Roberts, Chief Executive, HENRY – The importance of a healthy start
  • Dr Megan Blake, University of Sheffield – Building resilience to food insecurity through food ladders
  • Professor Jonathan Rushton, University of Liverpool – Barriers to quality food access in Liverpool
  • Dr Maria Bryant, Hull York Medical School – The role of community food assets in a multicultural population
  • Professor Louise Dye, University of Leeds – Too hungry to learn? The role of school breakfast provision in academic performance

Didn’t catch the webinar? Watch the recording…

Here are key documents which accompany the webinar recording:

Find out more…

Policy impact

Children eating at school

House of Commons – School Breakfast Bill

Research by Dr Katie Adolphus, Dr Clare Lawton and Prof Louise Dye from the University of Leeds underpins this proposed legislation calling for vulnerable children to receive a free school breakfast – which has been supported by Marcus Rashford.

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Food parcels

Hungry for change: Fixing the failures in food report

N8 AgriFood academics from the Universities of Leeds, Newcastle, Sheffield and York provided their expertise for this report from the House of Lords Select Committee on Food, Poverty, Health and the Environment.

Read the report
National Food Strategy part one

National Food Strategy – Part One

Prof Bob Doherty, Food Systems Policy Hub Director, shared his expert advice at the first National Food Strategy citizen engagement event, which fed into part one of the strategy. It’s the first major review of our food system in 75 years.

Read the strategy

Research and policy briefs

Child looking hungry

Tackling childhood food poverty in the UK

In this policy brief, Dr J Bernadette Moore and Dr Charlotte Evans from the University of Leeds, consider how actions are needed from national government and local authorities to reduce reliance on emergency food provision and improve take-up of eligible financial support.

Read the policy brief
Healthy food and junk food

Obese and hungry: two faces of a nation

This British Medical Journal article written by Dr J Bernadette Moore and Dr Charlotte Evans from the University of Leeds, explores how inequality is a leading contributor to both obesity and hunger.

Read the article
Person stocking food bank shelves

Responding to COVID-19: Overcoming barriers to food access in the Liverpool City Region 

This is a policy brief by Dr Grace Patterson and Prof Jonathan Rushton from the Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, Practice and Place at the University of Liverpool.

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School children eating with teacher

Measures of low food variety and poor dietary quality in a cross-sectional study of London school children

This European Journal of Clinical Nutrition article has contributions from Dr Charlotte Evans, Dr Jayne Hutchinson, Neil Hancock and Prof Janet Cade from the University of Leeds.

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Student sitting exam

Associations between habitual school-day breakfast consumption frequency and academic performance in British adolescents

This is a Frontiers in Public Health article by Dr Katie Adolphus, Dr Clare Lawton and Prof Louise Dye, University of Leeds.

Read the research
Child eating breakfast

The effects of breakfast and breakfast composition on cognition in children and adolescents: A systematic review

This review is by Dr Katie Adolphus, Dr Clare Lawton, Claire Champ and Prof Louise Dye, University of Leeds.

Learn more
Students in class

The effects of breakfast on behaviour and academic performance in children and adolescents

This is a Frontiers in Human Neuroscience article by Dr Katie Adolphus, Dr Clare Lawton and Prof Louise Dye, University of Leeds.

Read the article

“The reality is that on Universal Credit I cannot provide the recommended amount of fresh fruit and vegetables per day for my children”: Moving from a behavioural to a systemic understanding of food practices

This paper is part of the N8 AgriFood Collection for Emerald Open Research, written by Dr Madeleine Power, Dr Katie J. Pybus, Prof Kate E. Pickett and Prof Bob Doherty, University of York

Read the article