© CopyrightAs millions skip meals and are unable to regularly afford groceries, the Food Foundation warns of widening health inequalities
Millions of people - including one in five families with children - have gone hungry or skipped meals in recent weeks because they could not regularly afford to buy groceries, according to new food insecurity data.

According to the Food Foundation tracker, 15% of UK households - equivalent to approximately 8 million adults and 3 million children - experienced food insecurity in January, as high food prices continued to hit the pockets of low-income families.

Expects warned the persistence of high levels of food insecurity among low-income families was a "health emergency" that would drive the prevalence of conditions linked to poor nutrition, such as malnutrition and rickets.

Nearly two-thirds (60%) of food-insecure households reported buying less fruit and 44% bought fewer vegetables as they struggled with the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Comment: And what about meat? Which is crucial to a child's development? Propaganda rag The Guardian is at the forefront of pushing the establishment's vegan agenda, but even warped government dietary guidance admits that there are some nutrients that only come from animal produce.

By contrast, just 11% of food-secure households bought less fruit and 6% purchased fewer vegetables.

Although the foundation has previously reported the amount of vegetables bought by UK households has fallen to a 50-year low, the latest tracker data shows the situation is far worse for low-income families.

Citing Guardian revelations that the NHS has recorded an increase in hospital admissions for nutrient deficiency, the foundation said falling fruit and vegetable consumption among the poorest was likely to widen health inequalities and put added strain on the NHS.

Although inflation had decreased in recent months, food prices remained high, the foundation said. The price of a "reasonably costed, adequately nutritious" weekly basket of food has increased by 24-26% in the past two years, it said.

Comment: The rate of inflation may have decreased, but prices are still rising, and salaries have not. And this isn't even taking into account price rises across the board, from energy to telecoms to water. Meanwhile the majority of these sectors are reporting record profits.

Food insecurity levels - based on a regular Food Foundation survey of more than 6,000 people - have fallen slightly from 17.5% in January 2023 but remain as high as they were in the chaotic first weeks of the pandemic in 2020.
uk poverty
The foundation said the ongoing cost of living crisis meant food insecurity had become in effect the norm for many. Millions of low-income families being unable to afford to access regular and healthy food has focused attention on the inadequacy of social security support.

According to the Food Foundation's latest data, 45% of households in receipt of universal credit - the main low-income benefit - reported experiencing food insecurity. The foundation said all children in families on universal credit should be automatically entitled to free school meals.

There is increasing concern that from April the government will discontinue the household support fund - a £900m-a-year hardship fund administered by English councils and widely used to fund school holiday meal vouchers for families with children on free school meals.

Michael Marmot, a public health expert and professor of epidemiology at University College London, said: "There are fewer needs more basic than nutritious food for you and your children. In the UK in 2024, one in five households with children cannot meet that basic need. They are simply too poor; and the poorer they are the less likely they are to be able to meet that need."

Henry Dimbleby, a former government food adviser and the author of the 2021 national food strategy, called the latest statistics a "health emergency" that would cast a long shadow on public health.

A government spokesperson said: "We recognise the pressures people are facing, which is why are providing £104bn in cost of living support worth on average £3,700 per household, while our healthy food schemes are helping more than 3 million children.

"We know work is the best route out of poverty - so we're investing billions through our 'back to work' plan to break down barriers to work while raising the national living wage and curbing inflation so even more people can secure long-term financial security."