Food Insecurity: The National Picture

Over the last few years, household food insecurity has increased amongst British families and more people are turning to food banks for support.

Nationally, the State of Hunger report 2019 found that around 11% of children under 16 live in food insecure households and around 36% of food parcels distributed by the Trussell Trust’s network of food banks go to children. The End Child Poverty Report 2019 found that over 42% of Derbyshire children were living in poverty.

COVID-19 has magnified this issue. The Food Foundation estimates that close to 5 million adults are currently food insecure, compared with 2 million pre-lockdown, and this includes 1.7 million children living in these households. (

Between March and May, three quarters of a million meals were distributed to vulnerable families and individuals across the Feeding Britain network. An increasing proportion of these meals have been going to households who have recently lost work, in addition to those who were barely managing from one week to the next, prior to the pandemic, but are now simply unable to afford sufficient food and other essentials once their rent and utilities have been covered. (Baroness Boycott, Chair of Feeding Britain)

Feeding Derbyshire: Activity in response to Covid19

Food projects in the Feeding Derbyshire Network have been a lifeline for many individuals, families, and communities during the Covid-19 crisis. 

The Feeding Derbyshire Network connects 34 Food Banks operating at 39 collection points across Derbyshire.

The network also links with 22 Community Cafes / Social Eating Projects.

Several community cafes have continued to operate during the COVID-19 outbreak, adapting their provision to the preparation and distribution of ready meals. 

During the first two months of the Spring Lockdown, Derbyshire food projects doubled the amount of food provided to local people. 

Working with FareShare

Fareshare, who supply many of the food projects, saw the food weight they supply increase from an average of 41,000kgs per month to over 81,000kgs in April and May. 

Food projects that do not subscribe to Fareshare reported a similar increase in the level of need, with more people within our communities requiring support to feed themselves and their families.

Our most recent feedback from the Feeding Derbyshire Network showed that Food Banks and Social Eating Projects are supporting more than 3,000 of the most vulnerable people in the county. Here are some of the stories they shared:

"We have supported a single parent living alone with her 6 children since the beginning of lock down. We have assisted her to make a new claim for Universal Credit, but unfortunately, she had no income for the previous 8 weeks. In order to survive, she borrowed money and is now trying to pay it back using her Universal Credit. Making repayments means that she is struggling for money to feed the family.” 

“A man contacted our project explaining that he was in financial hardship due to no longer having a regular income. His food supplies were very low. He was stressed and anxious. The Foodbank delivered an emergency food parcel to him within the day. He also agreed to receive a call from the Foodbank's link Citizen Advice worker who was able to help with some of the financial issues he was facing. The Foodbank will continue to supply a food parcel to him until his circumstances change.” 

“We are seeing more families with ‘Special Needs’ children accessing our help... particularly where there is a single parent. We are helping clients we have not met before.”

What we are doing

As the lead for the Feeding Derbyshire Network, Rural Action Derbyshire have been supporting existing and new food projects during the crisis. We have provided regular communication and advice, but most importantly, information and support with respect to funding.
In the early stages, we worked with Fareshare and Foundation Derbyshire on plans to rapidly increase the supply of food out to projects at the height of the emergency – just when they were running out of food. 

We are actively engaged with Feeding Britain, not only in terms of securing a funding allocation to take us into the autumn and winter, but also through a Job Creation Scheme. 

In addition, we have successfully raised funds for a batch-cooking scheme. The Covid19 lockdown forced Feeding Derbyshire community cafes to close, leaving a sudden gap in provision for many older and vulnerable people, although a few projects continued to produce meals for home delivery or collection. In order to support projects with batch cooking and delivery, Rural Action Derbyshire secured funding from a number of sources, including Feeding Britain, Foundation Derbyshire, Lottery and DEFRA. This enabled RAD to provide support to 11 projects and are currently in talks with 2 more projects to join.

The Batch Cook scheme is providing a much-needed service to vulnerable people whilst they are shielding or isolating. The meals have also been a lifeline to people experiencing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic.

By the end of October, the Batch-Cook Scheme Projects had:

  • Received over 18 tonnes of food
  • The projects produced and distributed over 55,000 meals
  • The average cost per meal was approximately £1.10.

Resources are in place to continue the batch cooking scheme spring 2021, and Rural Action Derbyshire are currently exploring further funding options to sustain the scheme beyond this.

Holiday Hunger

The Feeding Derbyshire Partnership supports a network of holiday clubs that are part of our own Healthy Holidays programme. These clubs are located across the county, including Buxton, Chesterfield, Barrow Hill, Staveley, Matlock, Holmewood, Cresswell, Grassmoor, Doe Lea, Alfreton, Long Eaton, Kirk Hallam and Swadlincote.

To date, our Healthy Holidays programme has been supported by funding from Derbyshire County Council, Feeding Britain, Central England Co-Op and funds raised by the projects themselves

In the October half-term we worked with FareShare to support 15 clubs, supplying them with three days’ worth of food for over 2000 children. This was equivalent to over 10 tonnes of food and more than 15,000 meals. The scheme cost over £8,500 to run during the autumn break. 

In the six week summer holidays, 18 Holiday Clubs took part and together we supported over 6000 children and families, at a cost of £53,000.

Based on figures supplied by the October Holiday Clubs, on average 60% of the families attending would have had a family member go without meals over the half-term break if they had not received the food parcels provided. This figure rose to 100% in some areas.

Feedback from these clubs confirm that many families are struggling financially, and that a growing number of these are not yet eligible for benefits or Universal Credit, and are therefore not in receipt of Free School Meals. They do not always know where to go for help. These families were ‘just managing’ before the COVID crisis, but changes in work circumstances, reduced hours or recent job losses mean that they have significant money worries and many are falling between the cracks.

The second lockdown has seen some self-employed parents and those who are small business owners coming to the end of their savings, and turning to food projects for help to feed their families.

Whilst the Government’s recent announcement regarding the Covid Winter Grant Scheme is very welcome, we do not yet know how much local holiday clubs will receive from this funding pot, and whether this will actually meet demand. There is a sense that we are just scratching the surface, and that many more families will present to our projects over the festive period.  Click here for more information on this.