Measuring food security in London
In the Mayor of London’s draft Food Strategy he commits to ensuring to do all he can so that all Londoners can eat well and that they are able to enjoy food security for themselves and their family.
Many Londoners are not able to eat well at home, in part because of issues relating to poverty and inequality; more than 2.3 million Londoners live below the poverty line. The UN defines food security as having access at all times to food that is sufficient, safe and nutritious to sustain an active and healthy life. Household food insecurity takes many forms in individuals’ lives, for example, being unable to afford more food when it has run out, being unable to eat a balanced meal or skipping meals.
The UK government does not currently measure household food insecurity. While the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are taking steps to measure household food insecurity, each is using a different measurement tool which makes it impossible to form a UK-wide picture. Measurement is important as it allows us to explore why different trends are occurring and identify policy and practice interventions to deliver change where it is needed.
The case for measuring this important aspect of people’s lives has been put forward by many organisations (Church Action On Poverty, End Hunger UK, Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty and The Food Foundation among others). Ahead of the second reading of the Food Insecurity Bill 2017-19 on Friday 26 October 2018, we feel this is an appropriate time to provide an update on the GLA’s plans to monitor and report on food insecurity in London.
There are several well-tested, internationally recommended ways to measure household food insecurity including the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Household Food Security Module and United Nations’ Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES).
As part of the GLA’s forthcoming Survey of Londoners this autumn, we plan to include questions from the USDA’s Household Food Security Module to provide both measures of adult food security and children’s food security in London.
The survey will collect responses from c.5,000 Londoners, so as well as providing overall measures of food security for London, we will be able to see which groups of Londoners are affected more by household food insecurity and in which areas.
The data from the survey will be a valuable resource for the GLA and other organisations with an interest in tackling household food insecurity in London. The first results from the survey will be published in Spring 2019 and we plan to make the survey dataset available for download from the London Datastore.