Statistics show seniors sacrifice hot meals to save money on energy bills

A QUARTER of older people surveyed by a Scottish charity say they are buying less food so they can save money to heat their homes as energy costs soar.

Some Food Train members are also sacrificing hot meals as they try to manage gas and electricity bills amid concerns about rapidly rising prices.

The stark statistics, following research by the charity for the elderly, have heightened fears that a growing number of elderly Scots will suffer from malnutrition this winter.

Food Train has written to Scottish Secretary Alister Jack asking the UK government to double the amount paid into its previously announced pensioner cost of living payment to help people cope with the crisis.

Chief executive Michelle Carruthers said: “Our members are very worried about the upcoming winter. Many have no idea how they will cope. Some will have to juggle between keeping warm and feeding themselves.

“It puts people’s lives at risk. Without immediate action, an alarming number of older people will be at higher risk of malnutrition and social isolation this winter, causing further health problems and further straining our already strained NHS.

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“The reports we hear from our members are heartbreaking, alarming and unacceptable. Their concerns are clear and growing. Doubling the new cost-of-living payment for retirees will go at least in part to keeping the heat on and the cupboards stocked this winter.

Each year, Food Train works with over 3,000 older people across Scotland, helping them to eat well and live well at home through a range of shopping, meal preparation, friendship and other supporting projects.

One person who took part in its member cost of living survey said, “Maybe I should cut back on my shopping. I don’t know how to save money on energy because I need to warm up. When the temperature drops, I suffer.

Another said: “It is torture to choose between heat and food.

The charity’s investigation found:

27% of respondents had started buying less food.

25% said they would struggle to pay their bills (37% having already dipped into their savings to make ends meet).

30% switched to cheaper food brands.

60% said they would heat their home less.

41% cook more often in the microwave to save on heating their oven.

Explaining the impact of rising costs on the dilemmas they face between heating and food, some said they already only heat part of their house, shower less often to save energy energy, ate sandwiches for main meals and had stopped buying new clothes.

One woman told Food Train, “I eat salads so I don’t need to use electricity. I can’t afford it and I have no savings to dip into.

Another added: “It’s very hard not to give in to depression. If I’m cold, I don’t turn on the heating, I just put on more clothes.

Others go out less often to save money, which increases the risk of social isolation.

Food Train’s grocery service has faced record and sustained demand across Scotland since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, making more than 60,000 grocery deliveries across Scotland in the past 12 months .