Feeding Britain: A strategy for zero hunger in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
The report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the United Kingdom
We have had a great deal of evidence presented to us on the nature of food poverty and food insecurity. We have received a considerable range of evidence defining what individuals and organisations believe to be the most pressing aspects of these phenomena. Indeed, our call for evidence invited a broad response that demonstrates there is no clear definition of these terms.
After receiving the evidence, and at the conclusion of our public hearings, it became obvious to the Inquiry team that looking at food insecurity, let alone defining what we and others may think to be food poverty, could result in an interesting study as to how each of these terms was being defined by different groups of people and organisations. But this exercise would not match the immediate urgency that we feel over a number of our fellow citizens going hungry. We decided, therefore, to concentrate on the main evil of hunger.
Let us therefore begin by stating the blindingly obvious. An individual is in danger of going hungry when they do not have enough money to buy enough food as their body requires. There are people in this very position right now in this country although, for fairly obvious reasons, we cannot put an exact number on them. All we know, from our observations gathered throughout this Inquiry, is that there are too many people in this group. We also know that even if families have enough, just enough money to prevent hunger, this most basic of objectives is made that much more difficult if a family has only a very limited range of food on offer, little or no ability to prepare and cook food, and no facilities to cook that food, or if there are other fundamental crises afflicting their lives.
This simple but devastating fact that hunger stalks this country should confront each of the main political parties with a most basic and fundamental political challenge. With rising national income nobody could have predicted that in 2014 there would be a significant number of hungry people in Britain. But there are. Yet our findings and report are only partially about shaping party manifestoes for 2015. Our findings are equally about a call to voters and above all the voluntary movement to begin thinking through the terrifying idea that hunger is here to stay unless all of us take our responses on to a new and totally different level.
Our evidence review, published alongside the Inquiry’s report, and drafted by our Secretary, Andrew Forsey, lists the wider concerns that individuals and organisations have beyond the issue of hunger. But the issue which drove the establishment of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger and Food Poverty was the existence of hunger in a country that is as rich as is Britain, and we decided similarly to keep our recommendations to moves to ensure a hunger-free United Kingdom.