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Strategy to stop children going hungry launched in Newham

Poverty is also leading to a rise in childhood obesity (Credit: Newham Council)

A plan to stop children from going hungry in Newham has been launched by the local council.

Roughly half of kids in the borough are living in poverty and 17,000 of them will have to rely on food vouchers this summer. 

The Young People and Food Security strategy will look to encourage healthy food retailers to open in areas where none are available. 

It will also look to pilot healthy eating projects in secondary schools, introduce borough-wide food clubs and a digital map on the council’s website showing where food support services are located. 

The strategy is building on a £6 million raft of emergency initiatives that were brought in to support families during the pandemic. 

Rokhsana Fiaz, Mayor of Newham, said: “Poverty is the main cause of food insecurity and it is an outrage that so many of our residents cannot afford enough food to live a healthy and happy life. This is a basic human right.

“The campaign by Marcus Rashford highlighted why government needs to do much, much more; and all of us stand united with him to say we will not accept allowing our children to go hungry any more.”

There are also concerns poor children are being forced to rely on less healthy but cheaper foods. 

Around 43 per cent of pupils are overweight or obese by the time they reach Year 6, the second highest rate in London. 

Cllr Sarah Ruiz explained: “For too many families, the only affordable option is food that is high in fat, sugar and salt – being forced to choose between cheap, processed food, or hunger is not Food Security as defined by the United Nations.

“Undernutrition and obesity are two ends of the scale highlighting a diet that is not providing the right nutrition. This strategy addresses the structural inequalities and gives residents access to foods we need for good health and wellbeing.”

Newham Council is also launching a summer holiday action plan to promote the Healthy Start scheme. 

It will encourage stores to accept Healthy Start food vouchers for under fives and continue the Eat For Free programme which ensures up to 14,000 primary school children receive a nutritious school meal every day. 

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