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APPG on Hunger report: meals on wheels services help to prevent malnutrition among older people

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger’s new inquiry report on hidden hunger and malnutrition and older people provides an update on the extent of and drivers for malnutrition among older people and sets out recommendations for government, councils, care providers and third sector organisations.

The last official figures estimated that 1.3 million older people are malnourished or at risk of malnourishment. The APPG's report identifies the decline in meals on wheels services as a key driver for malnutrition. Indeed the report refers to Sustain’s submission to the inquiry which highlighted the fall in meals on wheels services provided by councils which has fallen from two-thirds of councils (66%) in in 2011 to under half (48%).

However, we were also pleased to see the evidence from Hertfordshire Independent Living Service (HILS)  which provides a high quality service to older people in Hertfordshire. HILS is one of the services featured in our case studies of organisations – both councils and not-for-profit organisations - taking action to enhance or re-establish meals on wheels services. These services also include other actions to address social isolation and other health and wellbeing issues.  On the financial side, there is clear evidence that meals on wheels can be viable services, for example in Wolverhampton the service was opened up to all residents and now serves almost 25,000 more meals per year than when this decision was made in 2011.

While the report focuses on preventative action to prevent malnourishment of older people admitted to hospital, the level of malnutrition in hospital highlights the importance of good hospital food as championed by Sustain’s Campaign for Better Hospital Food and the need for discharge arrangements that ensure people will have access to a good diet.

The report sets out a clear challenge for government, councils, care providers and third sectors to take specific action to prevent malnutrition, including maintaining or developing meals on wheels services.

To hear more about Sustain’s work on protecting our meals on wheels, sign up to the Sustain Food Poverty Campaign newsletter. 

Published Monday 22 January 2018

Food Poverty: Millions of people in the UK struggle to get enough to eat. We’re working to change that through people-powered projects and campaigns that tackle the root causes of food poverty and ensure everyone has dignified access to healthy, affordable food.

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