Following the coronavirus pandemic, Cornwall Council has begun looking into food insecurity in Cornwall.
The pandemic has shone a light on potential food insecurity in Cornwall as discussed by the Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 10th March 2021.
Prior to the pandemic, in March 2020, 11,500 children were claiming Free School Meals (FSM) in Cornwall, this number rising to just over 14,000 in January 2021.
Cornwall received a £1.8m Covid Winter Grant to support meal provision for children until 31st March 2021. Plus, it was confirmed by the council last month that £0.485m has been set aside for FSM during the Easter Holidays.
Despite the funding provisions in place for FSM, Cornwall Council is currently looking at the bigger picture of eliminating food insecurity in the Duchy.
The council accepts the definition of food insecurity as: “Limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways (e.g. without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging, stealing or other coping strategies)”.
Council communications have focused on encouraging families of infant children in Cornwall to sign up for ‘benefits-related’ Free School Meals and has seen an increase in uptake since the pandemic began.
However, the issue of food insecurity and its root causes needs further exploration.
A discussion took place in the meeting on 10th March 2021 on the absence of data relating to food insecurity being available in the UK. Alongside suggestions made by council members on whether events and periods of time such as the coronavirus pandemic increase food insecurity.
Despite the pandemic encouraging more eligible families to apply for Free School Meals, Cornwall Council says ‘food insecurity is likely to continue to be a concern for families who have been adversely affected by the pandemic’.