Food and Behaviour Research

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12 Sept 2011 - BBC Radio 4 - The Food Programme: Food Poverty

In this edition of The Food Programme, Simon Parkes discusses 'food poverty' and looks at food banks and asks if this is the only way.


What is 'Food Poverty'?

Food poverty can be defined as the inability to obtain healthy affordable food.  This may be because people lack shops in their area or have trouble reaching them.  Other factors influencing food access are the availability of a range of healthy foods in local shops, income, transport, fear of crime, knowledge about what constitutes a healthy diet, and the skills to create healthy meals.

Due to this complex mix of factors, people on low incomes have the lowest intakes of fruit and vegetables and are far more likely to suffer from diet-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity and coronary heart disease.  Food poverty can also be about an overabundance of “junk” food as well as a lack of healthy food.

To find out more, please visit:  SustainWeb - Food Poverty

Across the UK, people are going hungry and not getting enough of the foods that they need. Every week, new food banks - where food is given out for free to those in need - are opening their doors, and established food banks are reporting a sharp rise in demand.

The Trussell Trust is a charity that oversees a nationwide network of food banks in the UK. Simon journeys to Salisbury to the Trust's headquarters where he sees how food boxes are packed, meets those who use the food bank and volunteer there- and talks to Executive Chairman of the Trust Chris Mould about the organisation and its relationship with Government.

In New York City, Rich Ward visits the Union Square Greenmarket and talks to Jan Poppendieck, author of the groundbreaking book Sweet Charity which asked difficult questions about the role of the charitable sector in US domestic food aid in the nineties.

Martin Caraher, Professor of Food and Health Policy at London's City University, discusses what the UK can learn from North America, what the role of the State is, and shares his thoughts on why in a country in which there is enough food to feed everybody, there is this rise in demand for charitable food aid?