The European Union’s Council of Ministers adopted the Regulation on the new Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD). The Fund will give Member States €3.5 billion worth of support over 2014-2020 in their efforts to help Europe’s most vulnerable people and in particular those who have been worst affected by the on-going economic and social crisis. A successor to the Food for the Most Deprived scheme, the new fund aims to deliver beyond immediate food assistance and provide ‘essential goods’ to the most materially-deprived people.
Given that there were 43 million and people and growing in food poverty in the EU in 2009 (pre-crisis data), the emergency nature of the situation, increasingly poor diets and associated health inequalities among the Europe’s poorest means that a much more systematic and systemic approach is needed to address the problem of food and nutritional poverty, access to food and a ‘broken’ unsustainable global food system, and a more preventive and health-oriented nature of such European initiatives.
EPHA has been active on the issue from a public health perspective with a view to ensuring the programme distributes nutritious foods that contribute to good health of the most vulnerable.
In 2012, 125 million people living in Europe were living in poverty and social exclusion. Nearly 50 million of them living in extreme material deprivation. These numbers include infants, young children and young people growing up in poverty, with bleak prospects for a healthy and prosperous future. There are an estimated 4.1 million homeless people in the EU, including young people, migrants and families with children.
Evidence shows that the most vulnerable, excluded and people on low-incomes, eat less well, pay relatively more for what they get in terms of nutritional value and suffer disproportionately more from the vast and rising health inequalities due to poor and substandard diets.
That is why it is of utmost importance to not only provide emergency food aid with sufficient calories; but that it is also essential to make sure diets of the poorest are balanced, containing a good mix of food products that contribute to good health and well-being.