The Government’s long-awaited food strategy is a “missed opportunity” to tackle issues around food poverty and obesity, the LGA and others have said.
The strategy, for England, commits to increasing domestic food production in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, promising £270 million of investment in new technologies until 2029. In addition, the strategy sets out plans to create a new professional body for the farming and growing industry, to step up professional training.
Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board said: “Obesity and diet-related health issues are one of the biggest public health challenges we face, with the cost of treating obesity-related ill health forecast to rise to £9.7 billion a year by 2050.
“The strategy response represents a missed opportunity to tackle the underlying causes of many of these issues, which will continue to be exacerbated by the growing cost-of-living crisis.
“Unless the Government takes urgent action, its ambition to halve childhood obesity by 2030 will be missed.
“One of the ways these challenges can be met is for the Government to expand access to, and availability of, Healthy Start Vouchers – to ensure more families on low incomes can access fresh fruit and vegetables – as well as expanding access and increasing the eligibility criteria for free school meals, to include all children who are facing food insecurity.
“We are urging the Government to act now to ensure healthy food remains affordable to those who need it the most.”