This report, published in December 2017, highlights the particular challenges facing grandparents and older carers in affording healthy food for themselves and the disabled or seriously ill children in their care.

The report is based on 231 responses to a survey sent to older carers on low incomes in September 2017 who had received a grant from Family Fund in the last two years.

Key findings:

  • 61% said they found it difficult to afford healthy food for themselves and their family at least once in the last 12 months.
  • Older carers are more likely to have their own health issues to deal with. 37% of parents / carers that responded considered themselves to have a disability / chronic health condition or illness.
  • Many respondents – 40% – had additional caring responsibilities.
  • 39% said they had not paid a bill in order to buy healthy food for their family. For those who had disclosed a disability or chronic illness it increased to 46%.
  • Over a third – 36% – said they had used credit cards to buy healthy food for their family.
  • Of all those who responded, over half, 54% were not sure or not at all sure what benefits they were entitled to. And of those respondents who were unsure, 82% were not sure where they could find information and support about their benefit entitlement.

One older carer who responded has severe rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis. She said of caring for her 12 –year-old grandson who has autism and ADHD: “He has a sensitive gut and strictly needs dairy-free, gluten-free and Casein-free food, which is costly. He is entitled to Free School Meals but can’t cope with different foods of all colours and textures which they dish up every day – so he can’t have them.  I’ve always worked which I enjoyed, but he needs me so I look after him full time. I’ll borrow money or go without myself to afford it, because his health and happiness come first.”

Read the report here.

The report findings have been shared with the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hunger for their inquiry into how hunger and malnourishment are affecting older people. You can read more at https://www.feedingbritain.org/.