End Hunger UK has always been motivated by a vision of a UK where everyone has access to good food and no one has to go to bed hungry.

In November 2019, we launched a new phase of our campaign, focused on one goal: persuading all the UK’s political parties to commit to develop action plans to halve household food insecurity by 2025.

This would be a first step towards our existing commitment, within the Sustainable Development Goals, to end hunger by 2030.

The rationale

Household food insecurity is caused by poverty, not by too little food. Evidence suggests key drivers of household food insecurity are: low income caused by the operation and adequacy of the benefits system, low wages and insecure work; and the rising cost of living. Until we evolve our approach to do more to prevent people reaching the point of hunger by tackling the underlying causes of income crises, the need for emergency food aid in the UK is likely to continue to grow.

What does the goal mean in practice?

As a result of End Hunger UK campaigning over the past two years, the first official UK Government household food insecurity data will be published in April 2021. This will provide a baseline for household food insecurity based on data collected from April 2019 to March 2020. End Hunger UK’s goal of halving household food insecurity by 2025 represents a mid-point target halfway towards hitting the SDG goal of zero hunger by 2030.

Food insecurity is defined as:

Limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways (e.g. without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging, stealing or other coping strategies).

The UK has only just introduced an official government measure of food insecurity. This definition is drawn from guidance on measuring food insecurity in the USA and was used for the UK’s Low Income Diet and Nutrition Survey, 2007.

Food insecurity has varying degrees of severity. Early stages involve worry about whether there will be enough food, followed by compromising quality, variety and quantity of food. Going without food and experiencing hunger are the most severe stages.

Several recent surveys provide a general indication of levels of household food insecurity. They also indicate the scale of the challenge involved in halving household food insecurity by 2025.

The Food Standards Agency’s 2016 Food and You Survey revealed the prevalence of food insecurity amongst adults aged 16 and over. It showed 13% of adults were marginally food insecure, 5% were moderately food insecure and 3% were severely food insecure.

In 2016, the Food and Agriculture Organisation released data from the 2014 Gallup World Poll. Data which found that 5.6% of UK adults were moderately food insecure, and 4.7% were severely food insecure.

In 2017’s Scottish Health Survey, 8% of adults said that, at some point in the previous 12 months, they were worried they would run out of food due to a lack of money or resources. Overall, 7% of people ate less than they should due to lack of money or other resources. A further 4% had run out of food due to lack of money or resources in the previous 12 months.

Underlying causes of household food insecurity

To halve household food insecurity by 2025, the cross-departmental plan will need to address the underlying drivers of poverty and destitution. These drivers come under six broad headings.

You can find more evidence, and seven powerful cases, in our new report Why End UK Hunger?, to be published on 6 November 2019.