Going hungry does long-term damage, says charity founder
- Credit: Polly Hancock
A rise in food poverty due to the cost of living crisis is likely to have long-term and multidimensional consequences, the founder of a foodbank charity says.
Founder of Food Bank Aid, Naomi Russell, from Highgate, says anxiety, depression, irritability and poor grades are just some of the negative effects that stem from insufficient access to food.
Over the last six weeks several north London foodbanks have seen a 25% increase in the number of service-users attending - suggesting food poverty is on the rise.
Naomi said: “I sometimes think that people don’t quite realise. You think if somebody’s not got enough food and we give them a bag of food that everything’s fine. It’s much more complex than that.
“If there’s food poverty in a family, there’s huge anxiety which leads to mental health problems, to teenagers not being able to study for their exams, which in turn means not doing well at school, so the impact is long term.
“People can become irritable because they’ve not eaten enough. They’re not getting the right nutrition so their moods are bad which in turn can lead to violence and anger.”
Food Bank Aid sources and distributes donations of food, toiletries and essential household goods to foodbanks across north London.
The charity raised £790,000 during its 36-hour urgent appeal last month. While financial and moral support was received from the community, Naomi says unfortunately this will not see the charity through even one year.
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This is due to a dramatic hike in the cost of items the charity purchases, meaning less can be bought for the same amount of money.
“People recognise that we have to look after everyone, our communities care about their neighbours and were extremely supportive," she said.
“But we’re coming up to exam season and we’ve got all these youngsters at home during the Easter holidays with not enough food to eat.
“There will be mums who just don't eat because they want to feed their children.”
Visit foodbankaid.org.uk to support Food Bank Aid's work.