Scottish Government must work towards ensuring that everyone can enjoy an adequate diet
A new report – the first of its kind - serves up a way of measuring the right to food in Scotland.
The right of every person to live and eat with dignity will be part of the new Human Rights Bill due to be introduced in 2024.
It will require the Scottish Government to work towards ensuring that everyone in Scotland can enjoy an adequate diet.
Nourish Scotland - a charity campaigning on food policy and practice - set out to establish what this ambition will look like in reality.
Dr Chelsea Marshall, senior policy officer and the author of the report, said: “Firstly, we worked with people throughout Scotland to determine what an adequate diet is. Together, we developed case study families and, with support from nutrition experts, worked out everything each family would need for a balance of foods that are enjoyable, a good fit for their lives and healthy enough.”
She continued "We balanced the healthy aspirations for home cooked meals with plenty of fruit and veg, such as spaghetti bolognese and fajitas, with realities of shift-work and childcare demands. This in turn allowed us to measure the cost of a list of specific items over the past year, and how affordable and accessible this is for families in Scotland”.
Compared to December 2021, the overall cost of the shopping lists developed by the project increased 15% - 20%. In the sample diets, the cost of fruit and veg increased by 20% compared to nine per cent rise in cost of discretionary items such as crisps and sweets. Overall, the case study families are estimated to be spending around a third of their disposable income on food.
Pete Ritchie, director of Nourish Scotland, said: “The right to food can be an elusive concept. We developed a way of making it more tangible.
“We often focus on the fact that one in 10 people in Scotland are food insecure. As a country, our immediate priority needs to be to end the need for foodbanks – but our aspirations are much greater. Scottish Parliament recently passed the Good Food Nation Act. This new way of measuring the right to food allows us to see the extent to which Scotland is living up to the vision of a country where everyone can take pride and pleasure in their food.”
Maree Todd, minister for public health, said “I welcome this report which shows the challenges faced by families trying to access healthier, affordable food. Improving health and reducing health inequalities across Scotland is a clear priority for this Government. As well as the Human Rights Bill referred to in the report, we will introduce a separate bill in the current parliamentary year to restrict unhealthy food and drink promotions to make it easier for people to spend less and make healthier choices. We will also address the underlying causes by reducing poverty, supporting fair wages and families, and improving our physical and social environments.”
Dr Marshall added: “Working alongside people who know what it is like to make decisions about shopping, cooking and eating in families every day was key to this work. We can’t set the standard for adequate diets or dignity without involving people in this process. The right to food needs to be a national conversation.”