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Public Health Experts Fear Food Poverty Marks Return to Dickensian Times

May 1, 2014

In an open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron members of the UK Faculty of Public Health (UKFPH) have called for an independent group to be established to look at nutrition and hunger in the UK.  Signed by 170 members, the letter claims that many people are unable to afford a nutritious diet which is seen as a prerequisite for health due to rising food prices and decreasing wages.

Faculty president Professor John Ashton feels the current situation requires urgent action. “We should not accept this in the UK, the world’s sixth largest economy and the third largest in Europe,” he said. “We have to face an uncomfortable truth: we may be facing a public health emergency in the UK. The spectre of Oliver Twist is back. Children are going hungry in the UK: they may not be eating gruel but their parents are having to choosing cheap food that is filling but not nutritious.”

Last month the UK’s largest food bank provider the Trussell Trust released figures that showed 913,000 parcels were handed out in the past 12 months, a three fold increase on the previous year. Statistics from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) indicate that food costs went up 12% between 2007 and 2012 with a 10% drop in the purchase of fruit and vegetables during the same period.