St Giles is concerned that the rising cost of fresh fruit and vegetables will mean more people will need the support of food hubs to maintain a healthy, nutritious diet
The increasing cost of living is hitting less-well off families hard, with this month’s inflation figures painting a grim picture. According to the ONS, food and drink prices are increasing at the fastest pace since April 1980. Prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages rose on average 14.6% over the year to September 2022, increasing again for the 14th consecutive month.
St Giles runs a network of food Pantries across London in Camberwell, West London and Stamford Hill, as well as regional hubs in the West Midlands and Yorkshire, to help families who are struggling to make ends meet during this crisis – offering nutritious, healthy food in return for a subscription of £3.50 – and also offer expert advice and support on issues trapping clients in poverty. They offer a sustainable route out of poverty, with the aim of enabling people to become independent within six months.
Qualified St Giles staff are based at each Pantry offering advice and guidance services to people to help address debt, low paid employment, skills and training needs. Crucially, the staff all have direct experience of these issues themselves and are now employed by St Giles to help others make positive progress.
Across St Giles services, teams also help people facing insecure housing and homelessness, on top of rising food costs. This is challenging work at a time when there is a dire shortage of affordable accommodation for people across the UK but particularly for those living in London.
Costs are set to rise even further as we approach Christmas, as the UK switches over to more reliance on imported goods. Over the last year, the price of low-fat milk has risen by 42.1%, fish by 13.5% and pasta by 22.7%. (*Source ONS)
David Adams, St Giles Social Business Manager, said:
Not being able to eat regularly or healthily has a directly negative impact on health. Our Pantry staff have been shocked to see numbers of those with food worries rise this year, particularly in those households with children. The double whammy of rising food prices and reduced disposable income are resulting in an unsustainable lifestyle with many children just not having access to a healthy diet. With winter fast approaching, we have launched an emergency fundraising appeal to make sure we can continue to help people access enough nutritious food to feed their families this Christmas.”.
Louis (name changed to protect identity), who uses the St Giles Stamford Hill Pantry, said:
The Pantry has been a lifesaver, without it I wouldn’t eat a meal each day.”
Dr Megan Blake, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at The University of Sheffield, said:
Pantry programs offer households that are struggling access to healthy food in a context that enables them to make choices, opportunities to participate in British values such as thrift and environmental stewardship, and additional support to help repair the conditions that leave them vulnerable to hardship and hunger. Projects like this offer dignity and increase resilience as they move people toward being able to live a life where their relationships with food and each other are positive and rewarding. Such projects are important because they catch people before they need emergency support and they offer just transitions toward transformative change”.
To support the St Giles Emergency Appeal, visit: https://www.stgilestrust.org.uk/support-us/emergency-appeal/
For more information on the work of the Pantry, visit: www.stgilestrust.org.uk/what-we-do/tackling-poverty