On Thursday, young people from Glasgow are travelling to the Scottish Parliament to demand that those in power listen to their experiences of food poverty— and to act so that their human right to food is met.
At the Children’s Future Food Inquiry event they will talk directly to MSPs and civil society experts, and show them a film they’ve created questioning why fast food is targeted to young people.
Jacob, Aaron and Savannah are coming to Edinburgh thanks to their role as young ambassadors for the Children’s Future Food Inquiry, a UK-level initiative funded in part by the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland.
Commissioner Bruce Adamson is on the Inquiry’s board, and our office has been involved in making sure the voices of Scotland’s children and young people are heard as the Inquiry proceeds.
Right now, nobody knows how many of the UK’s children and young people don’t have regular access to the nourishing food they need. We’re working with the Food Inquiry to change that.
But it also wants to find out how children and young people’s lives are impacted by what we call food insecurity— not having regular access to enough nutritious food.
Young ambassadors are demanding action
The young ambassadors have been vital in making this happen. Last week, they spoke to MPs from across the political spectrum at the House of Lords.
Now, they’re talking about what needs to change here in Scotland.
Throughout the Inquiry, young ambassadors from across the UK have said food insecurity pervades every aspect of their lives and prevents them from fulfilling their potential.
And they’ve been clear that – like everyone – they have the human right to food and to seek help without judgement.
As well as talking about the effects of food insecurity and food poverty, Scotland’s ambassadors will show a film they made with Fixers UK questioning why takeaways and fast food are targeted at children and young people.
Young ambassador Aaron explained why they made the film:
“We know eating unhealthy food has bad effects but we are left with less of a choice.
“In our community there is a dot-to-dot of takeaways lining out streets. They offer lunchtime specials to school children, they are even promoted on our bus tickets.”
“We are always told about the important role food can play in our health. If we are the generation with lots of choices, then why can it feel like there is only one?”
Scotland’s children and young people have the human right to food— but it’s not always met here in practice
Child poverty is the most significant human rights issue facing children in Scotland today , and food insecurity is a significant reason why.
The UK as a whole is estimated to have some of the worst food insecurity rates in Europe, and the phenomenon disproportionately affects its 4.1 million children living in poverty.
It can lead to both malnutrition and obesity, with households forced to rely on the very cheapest foods— which are often nutrient-poor but calorie-rich. Recent research funded by our office suggested healthy diets would now be increasingly unaffordable for 220,000 children in Scotland.
“Essential to hear young people talking about the impact“
Commissioner Bruce Adamson will be at Thursday’s event as a representative of the Future Food Inquiry board.
Speaking ahead of the event, he said:
“ Child poverty is the most significant human rights issue facing children in Scotland and we need a sustained, systematic and human rights-based approach to tackling it.
“It’s essential that we hear from young people standing up as human rights defenders, talking about the impact food insecurity and poverty has on their lives and on those of hundreds of thousands of children across Scotland.
“I have heard from children all across Scotland about how it feels to go to school hungry, seeing family stressed about paying bills or making impossible decisions between heating or buying food. The stigma of visiting foodbanks, relying on the charity of others in order to eat, not having clean clothes, or not being able to join your friends in social activities are things that no child in Scotland should face.
“Poverty affects every aspect of a child’s life, including their educational attainment and mental and physical health.
“Incorporating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots Law is a necessary step to secure the human rights protections for children in Scotland and this must be progressed immediately.”