We are calling on the government to count the number of people who worry about where their next meal is coming from, or who cannot afford to eat. This level of ‘household food insecurity’ is currently unknown – but could easily be measured, using pre-existing survey questions developed by the United Nations or the United States. Once we know the level of household food insecurity, we can begin to address the causes. You can find out more about the campaign on our dedicated campaign pages.
Household Food Insecurity Private Members Bill
We have been working with Emma Lewell-Buck MP to promote her Private Members’ Bill on the need to measure household food insecurity. If passed this Bill would instruct the government to count those people who worry about being able to afford food, or who cannot afford food, across the whole of the UK.
Emma Lewell-Buck MP has been working to get the support of a number of external partners to support the Bill. For example, several education unions have publicly supported it because they recognise levels of food poverty in schools. This includes; the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, National Education Union, Association of School and College Leaders and the Association of Head Teachers.
The Bill also now has the support of over 150 MPs. Initially it was scheduled to be heard at the end of October, However, this date was changed to the 23rd of November. Sadly, it looks as if the bill may not be heard on this date either, as there are many in front of it. But it may be that the bill is moved again. We need to ensure the government understand the need for measurement and support what we are calling for in order to ensure the bill is successful. End Hunger UK will continue to work with Emma Lewell-Buck to ensure that this happens.
Behind Closed Doors Exhibition
Over the summer, we took an exhibition highlighting food poverty in the UK to several places including Bristol, Chester, Cardiff, Carlisle and London. The exhibition highlighted that we do not know how many people live in food poverty because many people try and deal with their situation ‘Behind Closed Doors’, and food bank statistics are only part of the picture.
The exhibition also featured poems from the young people who won the End Hunger UK and Poetry Society’s ‘Poetry to End Hunger’ competition.
Those attending the exhibition were asked to sign postcards to their MP calling on them to support Emma Lewell-Buck’s Private Members Bill. As a result, 63 MPs who had not signed up to support the bill received postcards.
Measuring household food insecurity and the Sustainable Development Goals
The UK has signed up to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal 2 calls for Zero Hunger, and by signing up to this the government should also be measuring levels of household food poverty in the UK. End Hunger UK submitted written and verbal evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee, a body which examines how the government’s policies and programmes are impacting the environment and sustainable development. We reminded the government of the need to measure household food insecurity in our testimony.
Our campaign has achieved a huge victory. We have heard, via a letter from the Prime Minister’s office to Emma Lewell-Buck MP, that the government will be measuring the level of household food insecurity for 2018. The letter says:
‘I can…confirm that the relevant United States Department of Agriculture Household Food Security questions will be included in the next wave of the Food Standards Agency’s “Food and You” survey which will be published in the spring of 2019”.
You can read the full letter on Emma Lewell-Buck MP’s Twitter page.
Whilst this is excellent news, there is still more to be done – as the government have not committed to continuing with the survey past 2018. We need to keep campaigning to ensure that household food insecurity is both measured and monitored every year.
What is next? What can you do?
We will continue to call on the government to support Emma Lewell-Buck’s Private Members’ Bill.
Visit the exhibition:
We have one final showing of the exhibition in London before the second reading of the Private Members’ Bill. Details are:
- 23rd November 9am to 5pm; Behind Closed Doors Exhibition, Greater London Authority building, City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, London, SE1 2AA. In the ‘Map Area’ which you can access via the main entrance. No need to register for tickets, you can just turn up throughout the day.
If you haven’t done so already please email your MP and ask them to support the Private Members Bill.
If you have already emailed you can always contact them via Twitter too.