With a stagnant economy where wages have shrunk or remained the same, inflation has presided over take home pay. Following the recession in 2008 we are still trapped in a cycle of austerity and increasing debt. This means that people have less disposable income; whilst necessities like travel costs, rent, and food prices have risen.

The cost of food, a basic staple for survival; has risen by 2.3% since the early part of this year. Indeed, with the economic uncertainty surrounding Brexit, and the tumbling value of the pound; there are no guarantees that prices may hike again due to inflation of imported goods. Supermarkets have even responded by reducing their promotional offers; such as buy one item and get another half price.

Rising food costs have even led to many relying on food banks for survival. The Trussell Trust’s Foodbank Network, an anti poverty charity, reported a 17% increase in use of food banks between April 2016 and March 2017. Indeed, the UK figure may be considerably higher.

Does Hackney make you fat? conducted some research in different parts of the borough to explore if we are being priced out of eating healthily. We ventured to Stoke Newington Church Street, Broadway Market and Well Street; to look at the cost of food items from cafes. restaurants and market stalls.

In Broadway Market 20 out of 35 food items that we recorded were £8 or more. We found a similar trend in Stoke Newington Church Street, where 45% of food items were £8 or more. Many of the food items that we recorded consisted of meals such as, sourdough toast, avocado and toast, or eggs benedict. These meals are relatively small in portion size; and therefore would not be sufficient to feed a family struggling with escalating  bills, council cuts, and inflation of everyday utility bills.

Eating healthily may therefore represent a genuine problem for those on low incomes, when we are bombarded by takeaway shops in the borough providing energy dense, calorific, affordable meals that could feed more than one person, and represent poor nutritional value due to high quantities of salt, artificial additives, fat, and/or sugar.

For example, in Mare Street (Hackney Central), we counted 13 takeaway shops. In Stoke Newington Road, there are 9, Chatsworth Road has 8,whilst Kingsland Road in Dalston boasts a whopping 13 takeaway shops. Lower Clapton Road has 7, of which 2 sell pizza, 3 provide chicken and chips,and 1 is a Chinese. This equates to an average of 9.8 takeaway shops per street.

Whilst it can’t be disputed that healthier options are available, a lack of choice, combined with high prices makes it challenging to eat well on a tight budget.

We will soon be holding some public demonstrations in protest at the number of takeaway shops in the borough, and the cost of food prices.