Every day in the UK people are going hungry because they cannot afford to eat. You may know someone in this position, or maybe this is you. However, MPs don’t know how big the scale of this problem is because, surprisingly, they do not collect statistics on how many people can’t afford to eat, or worry about where their next meal is coming from.
But we have a chance to change this and we need your help. Emma Lewell-Buck MP has created a 10-minute Rule Bill which asks the government to start measuring food insecurity across the UK. This will be heard by MPs on November 29th. It is really important that we get as many MPs as possible to support this bill.
There are three ways YOU can support this bill:
- Write to your MP requesting they sign on to the bill.
You can submit an e-letter easily and quickly here, or download a template letter to print and post.
- Call your MP’s constituency office.
Express your concern about food insecurity in your community. Ask that they support the bill on the 29th!
- Get tweeting!
Use our e-action to tweet your MP and ask them to support the bill on the 29th!
One way we know that people are going hungry is because in the past five years, food bank usage in the UK has risen rapidly. This alone raises important questions about how many people face insecure access to food. But knowing how many people go to your local food bank is not the same as knowing how many people can’t afford to eat. In fact, UN data collected in 2014 suggests that as many as 17 times the number of people using Trussell Trust foodbanks are food insecure. And data from Unicef shows that 19% of children under 15 live in a moderate to severely food insecurity household.
(Food insecurity is defined by the UN as the state of being without reliable access to sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. In other words, when people do not have enough money for sufficient amounts or quality of food, or the worry that this may happen in the future.)
Measuring food insecurity is easier than you might think. There are two existing survey tools that have been validated and could easily and inexpensively be added to an existing government survey of households. The UN Food Insecurity Experience Survey (FIES) and the USDA Food Insecurity assessment have been used in many countries around the world, and are the gold standard for measuring food insecurity.
On November 29th, Emma Lewell-Buck MP will put forward a 10-minute rule bill on implementing one of the above measures of household food insecurity routinely in the UK. This will build on the substantial progress made in Scotland, who are already implementing three FIES questions (with a view to implementing all eight in the coming years).
The need for this bill is as simple as this: what gets measured gets fixed. Food insecurity is affecting your community, your neighbours. In a rich country like ours, this is simply unacceptable! But we need quality data as a necessary first step to tackling this problem head on.
For more information on measuring food insecurity, there are two relevant briefing papers from the Food Foundation, Sustain and academic expert Dr Rachel Loopstra (Kings College London):
- Household Food Insecurity: The Missing Data
- Measuring household food insecurity in the UK and why we must do it