Breaking the food insecurity cycle
Hunger is a topic that should matter to each of us in Europe, writes Elanco clinical research consultant Anna Leigh Heffron.

Outside of my regular day job at Elanco, I’ve been working on our food security cause for the past seven years. During this time, I have seen public awareness of hunger in the UK change markedly and sadly seen many reports about the ever-increasing number of families and individuals in food crisis.

For those who don’t know, food security is about access to nutritious, affordable food. But it isn’t easy to break the cycle of hunger for thousands of people across Europe.

I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to give something back and make an impact on the communities we work in. Not least because many of these communities are closer to home than we might think.

People are often surprised to hear that food security challenges – far from being confined to developing countries – are a problem in developed countries here in Europe.

Did you know for instance that in the UK, where I’m based:

  • 8.4 million people – the equivalent of the entire population of London – are struggling to afford to eat[1]
  • 5.6% of people aged 15 or over in the UK report struggling to get enough food to eat and a further 4.5% report that they have gone a full day without anything to eat1

  • One in 10 adults suffered moderate levels of food insecurity in 2014, placing the UK in the bottom half of European countries on hunger measures, below Hungary, Estonia, Slovakia and Malta[2]

Good nutrition – a sufficient and well-balanced diet – is the foundation of good health. It’s related to improved infant and maternal health, along with stronger immune systems.

People with adequate nutrition are more productive and are able to create more opportunities to break the cycle of poverty and hunger. So it also makes economic sense to work towards greater food security.

Since 2012, Elanco UK has established a very productive partnership with FareShare – a charity that tackles food waste and food poverty in the UK and Northern Ireland.

FareShare takes good quality, in-date surplus food from the food and drink industry and redistributes this predominantly fresh food, like fruit, veg, meat and dairy to more than 6,700 charities and community groups. These organisations include homeless shelters, children's breakfast clubs, drug rehabilitation centres, women's refuges and day centres for the elderly, who all provide additional support to their beneficiaries, alongside nutritious meals, to help them get back on their feet.

Elanco employees are granted volunteer days several times a year and many UK employees use this time to work with FareShare, including volunteering in their regional distribution centres, providing training, assisting with expansion to new areas and more. Our relationship with FareShare has provided a fantastic opportunity to advance Elanco’s global objective to break the cycle of hunger in 100 communities by the end of year 2020.

To find out more, visit the FareShare website.

[1] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Voices of the Hungry, 2016

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