New research commissioned by Bath & North East Somerset Council has revealed high levels of food insecurity for older people who are on low incomes.
The two studies by the University of Bath concluded that social connection, as well as health and financial resources, are key to reducing the risk of food insecurity.
A questionnaire to B&NES residents receiving pension credit showed that nearly half of respondents (46%) reported some degree of food insecurity over the past 12 months.
Around a third of participants (34%) reported worrying about food running out before they could afford to buy more and indicated that it was often or sometimes true that they could not afford to eat balanced meals (33.6%). One in ten respondents said that they sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat in the past 12 months.
Alongside the rising cost of food and fuel, older people talked of tasks such as shopping, food preparation, and socialising as becoming increasingly difficult due to health and mobility issues, including access to suitable transport.
Residents who are struggling with food or in financial crisis can contact the Council’s Welfare Support Team on 01225 477277. The team can help with food, bills, household items and debt. They are available to help Monday to Thursday 9am to 5 pm (Wednesday 9.30 am to 5 pm), and Friday 9am to 4.30 pm https://beta.bathnes.gov.uk/apply-welfare-support
You can also contact the Community Wellbeing Hub on freephone 0300 247 0050, Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm or at https://communitywellbeinghub.co.uk/. There is also information online at the cost-of-living hub https://livewell.bathnes.gov.uk/cost-living-support
Information on local food support across B&NES can be found online at https://www.banesfoodfinder.org.uk
Dr Leda Blackwood, Department of Psychology at the University of Bath, said: “Our research found that amidst the wealth of Bath and surrounding towns and villages, many people have been struggling for some time with food insecurity. People are incredibly resourceful but low wages and benefits and the loss of vital services through austerity have left their mark - particularly for those who don't have family and friends they can rely on.”