'Dragons' hear how best to solve hunger fears in Cambridgeshire

Panellists listen to young people at a Feeding Futures conference in March

Panellists at the Feeding Futures conference heard some ways to help tackle hunger and food poverty in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire. - Credit: 20Twenty Productions

More funding into schools, new initiatives and using community support were just some of the ideas pitched to councillors and businesses to help tackle hunger in young people. 

The topics were discussed at a Feeding Futures conference in March held by Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Youth Advisory Boards (YAB). 

A panel, hosted by YAB member Ellie Barnett, discussed food poverty from those who have experienced food insecurity and how the community can play its part to tackle the issue. 

A YAB spokesperson said: “We also discussed how food poverty can affect pregnancy and how food insecurity and poverty can cause trauma from the beginning of a child's life, affecting brain growth.” 

Four young people then pitched to local businesses as part of a ‘Dragons’ Den’ session in a bid to encourage firms to commit funds towards their ideas. 

One successful idea was cooking at home, which secured funding from YAB for low income households to enable young people to learn key cooking skills. 

Another was a ‘Snack Patrol’ initiative, where Fenland schools, particularly those with high levels of free school meals, would be offered snacks in every classroom. 

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The spokesperson said: “The conference highlighted the importance of a child having access to food.

"It also highlighted how likely it is that young people and children aren’t eating breakfast and getting the nutrients they need to grow and learn efficiently.” 

Feeding Futures conference in March

Young people were able to share ways on how hunger and food poverty can be tackled in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire at a Feeding Futures conference. - Credit: 20Twenty Productions

St Peter’s Junior School received funds for their ‘Magic Breakfast’ sessions to help improve behaviour and grades. 

While community group Grub Growers, won funding for a new shed to continue supporting food banks and encouraging people to grow their own vegetable crops. 

In total, the Dragons donated over £4,000 to the four initiatives. 

John Murphy, of design automation firm RightMarket and one of the Dragons, told the young people that “the positive energy and general maturity displayed by all of you was infectious.” 

Tiffany Middleton, opportunity area programme manager, added: “It was a well-thought out and inspiring day.” 

The conference was organised after a YAB survey of 1,229 young people across Fenland and East Cambridgeshire were revealed. 

Some included over 70 per cent either not knowing where to get food at school or worried about their friends not eating in school.