MPs recommend minister for hunger to tackle SDG 2
The UK government is failing to tackle “significant and growing” levels of domestic food insecurity, malnutrition and obesity, with almost one in five children aged under 15 now suffering.
That is the stark warning of a report published today by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), which recommends that a minister for hunger be appointed to help deal with the problem.
The cross-party group of MPs said the government had allowed the issue to “fall between the cracks” after finding that levels of food insecurity in Britain are now among the worst in Europe.
This is despite previous government commitments to end hunger under the UN’s Sustainable development Goal (SDG) 2, with EAC chair Mary Creagh describing the lack of progress as a “scandal” that must not continue.
“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,” she continued.
“This can only be addressed by setting clear UK-wide targets, and by appointing a minister for hunger to deliver them.”
The EAC found that 19% of under-15s in the UK live with an adult who is food insecure, described as having “limited access to food due to lack of money or other resources”.
It warned that the issue leads to obesity and malnutrition by forcing people to rely on the very cheapest foods, which are often nutrient-poor but rich in calories.
Despite this, the EAC said no mention of food insecurity is made in the government’s obesity strategy, and that only the Department for International Development mentions hunger in its single departmental plan.
A minister for hunger is needed ensure cross-departmental understanding of the issue, according to the MPs, which recommended that he or she engage with civil society to determine the causes, develop strategies and monitor progress.
“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,” Creagh continued.
“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.”
Image credit: iStock
Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM