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Eat Well Age Well: Care organisations call for right to food to become law

LEADING SCOTTISH care organisations are calling for the right to food to become law in order to tackle malnutrition among older people.

Food Train and Scottish Care have issued joint appeals for MSPs to protect older people and tackle malnourishment.

The organisations believe MSPs have an opportunity to place food at the heart of social care with proposals for the national care service being worked on in the Scottish parliament.

They have spoken out today in conjuction with the start of Nutrition and Hydration Week, which aims to raise awareness for the importance of eating and drinking well.

Michelle Carruthers food train
Michelle Carruthers says social care in Scotland won’t improve “if people are unable to eat properly”.

Official estimates place one in 10 older people as being either malnourished or at risk of becoming malnourished.

Experts at Food Train’s Eat Well Age Well project are working to tackle the issue, and say that intelligence suggests the real number is actually between 20% and 30%.

The organisations believe the right to food must become law, which would make it clear that the government is to be held to account to ensure food is accessible and adequate for everyone.

The organisations say this would help tackle pressing public health issues such as malnutrition and support ambitions for a healthier Scotland.

As well as the Eat Well Age Well project, Food Train operates an award-winning shopping service for older people across 11 Scottish local authorities.

Food Train also operates a nationwide meal sharing project which sees volunteers sharing 2,300 meals every month with older people in need.

Scottish Care is a key partner of Food Train and the project, with the pair working together to improve care for older people.

Food Train Chief Executive Michelle Carruthers said: “The simple fact is that social care across Scotland is not going to improve if people are unable to eat properly.

“There is an urgent need to end the postcode lottery of support that exists across the country to ensure older people do not go without the food or meals they need.

“Tackling issues around food and meals would save not just hunger and poorer health, but money for our public services.

“The National Care Service must recognise the importance of food to wellbeing, recovery, avoidable malnutrition, falls, frailty and avoidable hospital admissions, supporting people to live independently in their own home.

“We see on a daily basis the difference it makes when older people are supported to eat well.

“Making the right to food a legal obligation would not only be a symbolic step, but a practical one – putting full legislative power behind the drive to improve lives for older people.”

Chief Executive at Scottish Care Dr Donald Macaskill said: “The right to food is a human rights issue and should be recognised in the development of the National Care Service.

“This not only means duties upon those who commission care and support for those in the community.

“It also means an adequate allocation of resources and finance to enable nutritional, sustainable and environmental food to be allocated to those cared for and supported in care homes.

“The essence of a hospitable nation is the extent to which it affords fulness to those who sit around its table, whether neighbour or stranger, none should go hungry.”

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