Healthy Food for All is a new initiative to promote access, availability and affordabilty of healthy food for low-income groups. The aim of the initiative is to address diet-related ill-health and to end food poverty in the island of Ireland. It aims to address a healthier nutrition as well as challenge health inequalities.
The Healthy Food for All Initiative has recently received an award at the World Health Organisation Istanbul conference on obesity[[During the Conference, the WHO Regional Office presented a series of awards acknowledging good practice in activities that contribute to counteracting obesity. The awards went to many initiatives at local and national level that promoted healthy eating and physical activity, especially amongst children. Governmental authorities carried out most of the initiatives, but there were a few that were awarded to projects implemented by other organisations, such as NGOs and public private partnerships (with the fruit and vegetables producers in Ireland).]] as an example of best practices to combat obesity.
The Healthy Food For All initiative has been launched by Combat Poverty Agency, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Crosscare, with additional funding from Dept. of Social & Family Affairs, Population Health (HSE), SafeFood, and Food Safety Authority of Ireland.
It aims to:
– support community and sectoral initiatives that promote availability and access of healthy food to low-income groups, including direct food provision, such as the provision of school meals.
– develop a network to share ideas about best practice for promoting healthy food for low-income groups. This network will also develop links with similar organisations in the UK and Europe.
– promote awareness of food poverty.
Background: Factors contributing to food poverty
According to the Healthy Food for All, food poverty is defined as “the inability to access a nutritionally adequate diet”. Food insecurity and inadequate diet are common problems associated with poverty.
– Income adequacy: not having enough to live on. Those most at risk are low-income households, also the unemployed, the elderly, the homeless, Travellers and refugees/asylum seekers.
– Access: large companies often influence what is sold in shops and where the shops are located. Smaller local shops are often significantly more expensive than larger stores. In many areas they also close early for security reasons.
– Appropriate information: knowing the best options given financial constraints.
– Transport: the people most at risk have very limited choice of transport to reach larger stores which generally provide wider choice, lower prices and better opening hours.
– Market support measures: over production of less healthy food.
– Advertising: particularly advertising directed at children.