Supermarkets should help those in England’s ‘food deserts’, says eh? | food poverty

Large supermarkets need to step up support for low-income customers stranded in England’s “food deserts” to enable them to easily access healthy groceries during the cost of living crisis, according to consumer group Who?.

The scarcity of affordable, healthy food is so severe in some of the poorest areas of Birmingham, Liverpool, Bradford, Durham and the Welsh Valleys that the vast majority of neighborhoods in these areas should receive targeted assistance, which one? Says.

The study found that nearly half of neighborhoods in North East England – and about a third in Yorkshire, West Midlands and North West England – lack easy access to supermarkets, have low availability of online deliveries and low levels of car ownership, making it difficult Low-income families should put food on the table.

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All neighborhoods in Birmingham’s Hodge Hill parliamentary constituency lack easy access to cheap, healthy supermarkets, what are they? study found. It quoted a local food bank volunteer, David Fletcher, who said, “Where there is this food bank, there is no supermarket within two miles.”

There is a similar dearth of affordable food stores in Knowsley in Merseyside, according to the study, which found that half the average number of large supermarkets in the UK, with 96% of local neighborhoods unable to easily access affordable healthy food stores. reasonable.

Some rural areas that do not typically feature prominently in indicators of deprivation are identified by the Who? Such as poor access to affordable food, such as former Prime Minister Liz Truss’s southwest Norfolk district, where 70% of neighborhoods have limited access to supermarkets and other food stores.

Guardian Drawing

The study says that all regions with the greatest need for food support tend to have higher levels of poverty, deprivation and fuel poverty, greater use of food banks and greater intake of free school meals.

“Food deserts” have always been a problem in economically disadvantaged areas, with poor or expensive public transportation links to those supermarkets more likely to offer good value products. However, higher prices and lower incomes have highlighted the problem, with 14 million people in the UK currently food insecure.

Regionally, the North East of England is hardest hit, with nearly half (45%) of local neighborhoods having difficulty getting cheap and healthy food, followed by Yorkshire and the Humber (37%), and the West Midlands. (36%) and the Northwest (32%).

This contrasts with the relatively high levels of access to affordable food in London and the southeast, according to the study by researchers at the University of Leeds. Only 4% of neighborhoods in the capital are likely to experience a dearth of fresh, cheap food, and 7% in the Southeast.

With the poorest families hardest hit by rising energy and food bills, eh? He called on national supermarket chains to help low-income customers in so-called “priority” areas by expanding budget food brands, targeting them with fruit and vegetable promotions, and making online deliveries more accessible.

Sue Davis, which one? The head of food policy said: “We know millions of people are skipping their meals during the worst cost-of-living crisis in decades, but our new research tells us where support is most needed around the UK.

Supermarkets have the power to take action and make a real difference to communities across the UK. That’s why we call on them to ensure everyone has easy access to budget food ranges that allow healthy options, product prices can easily be compared for the best value and that promotions are targeted to support those most in need.”

However, Andrew Western, head of the Local Government Association Resource Council, said the welfare system should be generous enough to reflect true living costs such as travel to supermarkets and online delivery fees. “The benefits must be fair and sufficient to support families’ access to supermarket food,” he said.

Andrew Obe, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “The rising cost of living is a major concern for both retailers and their customers. Retailers are determined to support consumers with the cost of living, such as expanding value ranges, keeping prices low and offering category discounts. weak.”

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