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Sustain submits evidence to the APPG on Hunger inquiry into older people

Sustain has submitted evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger's inquiry into the extent and causes of hunger amongst older people in Britain. 

Sustain has submitted evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger's inquiry into the extent and causes of hunger amongst older people in Britain

Our submisison highlights the meals on wheels case studies published last year by Sustain, NACC and Sustainable Food Cities, showcasing four successful models of meals provision and our recently published Beyond the Food Bank 2017 report which includes an update on the London Independent Living Service pilot in Camden and a snapshot of current meals on wheels provision in the capital (findings are based on the 22 boroughs which responded to our survey).

The Malnutrition Task Force reports that 1 in 10 older people in the UK are suffering from, or at risk of, malnourishment. Age UK reports that nearly half a million older people commonly do not see or speak to anyone for five or six days a week. The causes of malnutrition and loneliness are related, and so too can be the solutions. To create impactful change, we must address the issues of isolation, related mental health challenges and lack of support services in a holistic way.  MoW provides an opportunity to do that.

Traditional meals on wheels services, where warm or frozen meals are dropped off at clients’ homes (often on doorsteps with very limited social interaction) have been significantly cut in recent years. Under half (48%) of local authorities provide meals on wheels services, down from 66% in 2011. A number of factors have driven this decline, including reductions in local government funding, outdated assumptions of what MoW services can achieve (i.e. providing food and nothing else), changing demand and demographics, a shift away from block contracts to more personalised support and failure by some services to innovate and move to a ‘more than the meal’ model.

Dining is much more than fuel.  It’s social engagement.  A meal is much more than nutrition, eating well makes life more pleasurable. Adopting MoW programmes that are about warm meals and reducing isolation, loneliness and preventing other health problems through older people receiving regular visitors and taking an approach to food provision that is preventative and targeted. There is evidence from around the UK and London, that integrated meals on wheels provision is attractive to social enterprises. For example, with support from the county council, Hertfordshire Independent Living Service has expanded its offer beyond meal delivery.  In Plymouth, local authority trading company CATERed prepares meals for older people within the school catering offer.

We hope that the APPG's inquiry report will highlight how there are currently a number of viable and very positive models for meals on wheels provision in operation which are looking to expand their customer base and/or geographical reach. Crucially the meals provide much more than the meals themselves, helping to promote wellbeing and prevent escalation of needs.


27/10/2017
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Sustain: Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

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Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming

Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.