MPs demand dedicated 'Minister for Hunger' as one in five children face food insecurity
Theresa May has been urged to appoint a dedicated 'Minister for Hunger' as MPs accused the Government of letting efforts to tackle malnutrition slip "between the cracks".
The cross-party Environmental Audit Committee said 2.2m people in Britain were living with food insecurity, defined as having "limited access to food...due to lack of money or other resources".
And they warned of a "doughnut-shaped hole" in the Government's efforts to meet a United Nations goal of zero hunger and malnutrition by 2030, accusing ministers of having "failed to recognise and respond" to the problem.
According to UNICEF figures cited by the group of MPs, some 19% of children in Britain under 15 are now living with an adult who is either "moderately or severely food insecure".
Committee chair Mary Creagh 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."
The Labour MP called on the Government to set "clear UK-wide targets" and appoint a dedicated minister in a bid to tackle the problem. The committee is also demanding that the Government does more to assess the impact of its controversial Universal Credit welfare shake-up on levels of hunger and malnutrition in the UK.
They said: "We recommend that the Government appoint a minister with responsibility and accountability for combatting hunger and food insecurity within the UK.
"They should work with civil society to explore the scale, causes and impact of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; implement strategies for improvement, and monitor progress."
The report's findings were welcomed by leading food bank charity The Trussell Trust.
Chief executive Emma Revie said: "A failure to address the root causes of poverty has led to soaring need for food banks, with more than 1.3 million food parcels provided to people by our network last year."
Responding to the committee, a Government spokesperson said: "Household incomes have never been higher and the number of children living in workless households is at a record low, but we know there’s more to do to ensure that every family has access to nutritious, healthy food."