ARE UK’S CHILDREN POOR ENOUGH?
For the ones who don’t know us yet, a little introduction: Jake’s Boost is a UK based health food startup startup aiming to grow into a multi social enterprise.
What do we mean by that? Our ultimate goal is to have several product lines that will each support different environmental and social causes. Our first endeavour is mixed nut and seed butters and nut butter based snack products. 5% of our profits go to charities that fight childhood food poverty in the UK.
We have, over the past months, faced some criticism for the social cause we are backing with our startup. Comments we hear are usually along the lines of:’Children in the UK don’t need support, they aren’t poor. They are not starving.’
Childhood food poverty in the UK and holiday hunger in particular aren’t subjects I found an awful lot about when researching up until the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) released a report on holiday hunger in the UK. We don’t personally support any of the politicians who have worked on this report nor is this a political statement in the run up to the general election. This is a social statement as to why we have decided supported this particular cause over so many deserving others as our very first beneficiary.
First of all, some of the staggering facts:
1. Up to en estimated 3 million children are at risk to go hungry during school holidays in the UK.
2. The number of families with children relying on food banks increases during the holidays because school canteens are shut.
3. Parents regularly go hungry to be able to put food on the table for their children.
4. For those families that are managing to scrape together enough money for a filling, stodgy diet to stave off immediate hunger, the poor quality of the food that has been bought to fill hungry stomachs often brings malnutrition into play.
5. The daily struggle with hunger prevents those families from going out, enjoying themselves and being socially active. Their children are suffering from a lack of opportunities to learn and play, resulting in them being weeks sometimes months behind their class peers when returning to school after the holidays.
6. Increase of obesity and lack of vitamin D in those children due to inactivity and spending disproportionately lengthy times at home and in front of the TV or computer. This has an affect on both physical and mental development.
The impact of hunger on those children is profound:
a) Holiday Hunger increases the inequality in life chances between children from poorer and wealthier backgrounds.
b) Malnutrition has serious health implications. If children do not have a healthy, balanced diet they are more likely to suffer from obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and heart disease. Studies suggest shortened life expectancy of 23 years less than their most affluent counterparts.
c) Children on an impoverished diet return to school after the holidays sluggish and dreary. They lack ability to focus and quickly fall behind their class peers. It has a detrimental affect on the physical and mental well-being.
d) They are likely to suffer anxiety, depression and other forms of psychiatric distress; and have increased levels of irritable or aggressive behaviour.
c) And last but not least: children who don’t perform well at school are less likely to find a well-paid job and be able to break the cycle of poverty.
The list is not complete and we are aware that there many more factors to take into consideration when looking at the crucial relationship between poverty and educational performance.
When these children receive support and equal opportunities to excel at school, they are more likely to find well-paid jobs and become catalysts of social change themselves.
We don’t save these kids from acute starvation but we help give them the opportunities in life they deserve.