Food insecurity exacerbated by COVID-19 is far from over

Date: 25th June 2020
Category: Child poverty


A survey of frontline Scottish community organisations found that there have been improvements in emergency food aid provision since the start of lockdown. However, it also highlighted a sense of emerging concern amongst community organisations that the food insecurity crisis is far from over.

Community organisations report demand for food is increasing and believe it is likely to continue to rise. This is attributed to more local people who were already feeling the constant pressure of poverty becoming aware of the help offered and more people being newly swept into poverty. Many organisations are at full capacity and expressed doubts over whether everyone’s food needs are being met.  This anxiety is compounded by fears over future levels of funding and staffing concerns as volunteers return to full time work.

The research conducted by Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit at Glasgow Caledonian University found:

  • 65% of frontline organisations report demand for emergency food has risen over the past month, with 73% of organisations anticipating a further rise in demand
  • 80% are concerned they are not reaching everyone in need of emergency food support
  • 33% of organisations expect the amount of emergency food aid funding to reduce
  • Nearly one-in-five organisations (18%) reported that staff wellbeing is worsening
  • Most organisations are providing three or more forms of non-food-based support, including financial support (77%) and befriending and/or check-up calls (70%)

From this evidence, the Poverty and Inequality Commission has made three recommendations to Scottish Ministers:

  1. More visible leadership by Scottish Government- this will ensure emergency food provision reaches those who need it.
  2. Continuity of funding- Ministers should top up the Food Fund with what is required for as long as it is required
  3. Resilience, recovery and renewal- Looking to the future, Scottish Government should learn from the experiences of how central government, local authorities and community organisations have come together and rapidly co-ordinated efforts to ensure that emergency food provision needs are met. This should involve meaningful engagement with community organisations and people with lived experience of poverty. This learning can be used to build resilience to deal with any future waves of COVID-19 or future pandemics.

Read the research report here.

Read more about the Poverty and Inequality Commission’s recommendations here.