Cuts have caused poor nutrition

Foodbank collection at the Co-op
Foodbank collection at the Co-op
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THE idea of a fairer society has been a distant dream for hundreds of years.

Governments, wars and economic recessions have come and gone and fairness has rarely been on any agenda for long.

With food banks on the increase and a growing number of Sheffielders unable to feed their children, that notion of fairness seems as far away as ever as demand on food banks stocks is such that some have turned away people empty-handed.

There is also anecdotal evidence of food poverty particularly affecting children, with some attending school without breakfast, which has significant impact on their behaviour and ability to learn.

Evidence suggests the cause of acute food poverty in many cases is problems with or a loss of benefits often through sanctions or following changes in circumstances.

For many, this may be made worse may by a reliance on processed and poor quality food.

Processed food costs have risen by 35% since 2007, with a 15% increase in the year to June 2012 - higher than any other food type.

Cynics will be asking if the people struggling are really making every effort to provide for their families – or are they just looking for excuses?

Not according to those responsible for running food banks and other family support services.

“I would say 80 per cent of the people we help are families,” said Chris Marriott of the Jubilee Food Bank in the city.

“It’s largely not the individual’s fault that they find themselves in the situation they do.

“We get some trying to play the system but we soon learn to spot them. The vast majority are genuine.

“We do work with single people as well who have problems but people generally have more sympathy with families, especially at this time of year.

“The food banks are all run by church groups including a lot of volunteers across the city . All the food we give out comes from private donations from members of the public.”

Backed by Sheffield MP and former Home Secretary David Blunkett and city MP Paul Blomfield, struggling families can be referred to food banks by social services, GPs and other agencies.

For information go to www.sheffieldfoodbank.org.or call 0800 5878871.