For the first time in its history, Unicef is supporting children and families at risk of food insecurity across the UK.
Unicef UK has partnered with local UK organisations to develop a one-off domestic emergency response to support vulnerable children and their families during the pandemic. It launched its ‘Food Power for Generation Covid’ programme in partnership with food advocacy charity Sustain in July 2020. It has now awarded grants to 30 UK community projects, hoping to reach between 10,000 and 15,000 young people by the time the programme ends in April 2021.
Before the pandemic struck, an estimated 2.4 million UK children were living in food insecure households. Since March 2020 an increasing number of families are facing financial hardship as the economy suffers and unemployment rises.
The announcement follows a high-profile campaign led by footballer Marcus Rashford to provide children living in poverty with free meals during the school holidays. In response to Unicef’s announcement, Rashford commented:
“Unicef UK’s emergency response is vital for our most vulnerable communities. Given the impact of the pandemic, families are struggling more than ever to put food on the table. We must keep fighting for a long-term sustainable solution to combating child food poverty in the UK. We must prepare and equip all children to succeed in their adult lives and that work starts now, by stabilising households and building out an effective food access foundation.”
Unicef UK have awarded £25,000 to School Food Matters to provide breakfast boxes for schools in Lambeth and Southwark in London. Similar projects will also run in Stockton on Tees, where families will receive fresh fruit and vegetable packs, as well as baking bags and meal kits to support family cooking during the winter holidays. Other projects around the country, including in Cardiff, Flintshire, Newcastle and Thanet, will provide cooked meals or meal kits using “easy, economic and healthy recipes”.
Simon Shaw, Head of Food Poverty Programme at Sustain, said:
“All over the UK local food poverty alliances and food partnerships have been taking action to ensure local people have access to food during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This partnership with Unicef UK comes at crucial point in the midst of heightened Covid restrictions when many individuals’ resources will be depleted. Local alliances are well-placed to support their communities over the next few months and to reach those who have been hardest hit.”
Unicef follows other international development charities in developing new programmes focused on the UK in response to the pandemic. In May, the British Red Cross announced it was partnering with FareShare to deliver emergency food parcels to vulnerable people across the UK. Save the Children has also launched an emergency response to Covid-19, providing grants that have reached over 10,000 families.
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