The alarming cost of food
A S part of a number of changes to the National Health Service on April 1, councils will assume responsibility for public health. It has previously been the duty of the NHS to monitor the health of the local population and draw up strategies to address major concerns and tackle issues head-on. In The Sentinel last week, public health director Professor Zafar Iqbal warned that the recession was threatening to undo all the good work in recent years to shake off Stoke-on-Trent's 'sick city' tag. He was particularly concerned about the Government's welfare reforms. He feared the desire to get people off benefits and into work would compound the effects of the economic crisis. And those concerns are echoed today by the Children's Food Trust which revealed that pupils are being sent to school with biscuits and cold chips in their lunch boxes as the price of food continues to rise. A poll of youth workers, childminders, teachers, doctors and hospital staff showed that many see children who are not getting enough to eat and as a result they have resorted to giving them food.
T he trust says the sad state of affairs is down to rocketing food prices which has seen the price of a loaf rise by almost £1 in 30 years. And customers would need £299 today to have the equivalent of £100 in 1982. Of course, it is the responsibility of parents to make sure their child eats well but it is hard to ignore the fact any increase in wages is nowhere near keeping tabs with the rise in the cost of living. So local authorities need to be aware of the concerns raised by the trust when they develop their public health plans. Struggling parents and children need the right support and ring fencing funding to help children's nutrition would be a good starting point. Anything less may well be storing up major problems for the future.