Government urged to appoint Minister for Hunger

The Environmental Audit Committee has said that government has failed to recognise and respond to the issues of hunger, malnutrition and obesity in the UK and should appoint a minister to ensure cross-departmental action.

Hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity in the UK, the report published by the group of MPs, finds that food insecurity is significant and growing in the UK, with levels among the worst in Europe, especially for children. Food insecurity is defined as ‘limited access to food … due to lack of money or other resources’. It criticises the government for failing to recognise and respond domestically, instead allowing these issues to ‘fall between the cracks’.

The government’s obesity strategy makes no mention of food insecurity and only the Department for International Development mentions hunger in its Single Departmental Plan. Therefore, the group of MPs have called on the government to appoint a Minister for Hunger, who must engage with civil society to analyse the scale, causes and impacts of food insecurity in the UK, implement strategies for improvement and monitor progress.

Mary Creagh, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said: “Many of us are still recovering from Christmas excess but the sad fact is that more children are growing up in homes where parents don’t have enough money to put food on the table. The combination of high living costs, stagnating wages and often, the rollout of Universal Credit and the wider benefits system, means that levels of hunger in Britain are some of the highest across Europe. We found that nearly one in five children under 15 are living in a food insecure home – a scandal which cannot be allowed to continue.

“Instead of seeing hunger as an issue abroad, the government’s New Year resolution should be one of taking urgent action at home to tackle hunger and malnutrition. This can only be addressed by setting clear UK-wide targets and by appointing a Minister for Hunger to deliver them.”

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