New research commissioned by Mars Food UK has revealed that 77% of UK adults are worried about the negative impact the Coronavirus pandemic may have on poverty and children’s access to healthy meals. Just under a third of UK adults (30%) also shared their worry around not being able to provide for their family, with 22% saying they will need to take steps to reduce their food and drink shopping bill.
The research is being launched alongside Mars Food’s partnership with the Trussell Trust that will see Mars Food support the distribution of two million meals across its food bank network to help families in crisis across the UK.
In addition, as the return to office life continues there is concern from employees on losing the family dinnertimes they have enjoyed during lockdown. A quarter of those surveyed said the main obstacle to shared mealtimes was conflicting schedules (25%). With the nation getting used to their new routine, one in 10 (11%) UK adults who are working during the lockdown said they have considered changing jobs in lockdown due to wanting something more flexible moving forward, and one in 20 (5%) said they are currently planning on leaving their current role If their employers doesn’t offer flexible working after lockdown.
With 82% of UK adults who live with others saying those shared dinnertimes were important, these factors are more relevant than ever. Prior to lockdown only 25% of people shared a meal four to six days a week with 1 in 20 (5%) never sharing mealtimes with other people. The benefits of these shared mealtimes were clear in the research with 58% saying it resulted in a greater connection with others, and 55% said it was a chance to share news and updates. In addition 48% said it was cheaper to cook for multiple people at once.
60% of UK adults said they had become more aware of the importance of affordable and nutritious meals for families in the UK. Lockdown also seems to have had an impact on those habits, with 24% eating healthier than usual during this time, however 11% said they were worried about having to rely on less nutritious but affordable food options in the future.
With the full household at home during lockdown, it seems the responsibilities fell more heavily on women. Only 14% of UK adults who live with others said that the cooking had been evenly shared between male and female members of the household. Similarly, in parents with children under 18, 40% of women said they had been doing more cooking for their children, in comparison to 24% of men.
Speaking on the research, Craig Sargeant, general manager at Mars Food UK says: “Dinner time matters for all families, not just those who can afford to eat them, which is why we’re proud to be working with the Trussell Trust to help families in crisis, especially during this time of uncertainty. It’s clear from the research that there are concerns around the economy, and the impact this has on being able to access nutritious and affordable meals. Our products are some of the most in demand by families (pasta sauce 38% and ready to heat rice 29%), so we hope that through our work with the Trussell Trust we can ensure that more families in the UK get the support they need to access nutritious and convenient food allowing them to enjoy dinnertime together.”
Samantha Stapley, chief operating officer of the Trussell Trust, said: “We’ve seen unprecedented numbers of people needing help from food banks as the impact of coronavirus has hit people’s incomes. This isn’t right. But this can change. These findings show that as a nation we care about each other and we want to right this wrong. There are things we can do to unlock people from poverty and ensure everyone has enough money for essentials. Our partnership with Mars Food UK will not only help food banks today but will also support our work towards a future where everyone can afford their own food.”
To find your nearest food bank visit: https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/emergency-food/