A legal “Right to Food” should be enshrined in law, according to a poll.
Three-quarters of those quizzed want ministers to legislate so people should always have enough to eat – guaranteed by the Statute Book.
The plea comes at the end of a year when footballer Marcus Rashford twice forced Boris Johnson into humiliating U-turns over feeding hungry kids during the school holidays, and following record demand for Britain’s foodbanks as the coronavirus crisis gripped the nation.
This month, the United Nations agency responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide intervened to give £25,000 for hungry youngsters in South London – prompting senior Conservative Jacob Rees-Mogg to claim it should “be ashamed of itself”.
An online Yonder study of 2,074 people for the Co-operative Party shows 75% support a legal Right to Food to tackle the growing scandal of hunger in the UK.
General secretary Joe Fortune said: “It isn’t right that people are struggling to put food on the table in one of the world’s richest countries.
“Despite Co-operative councillors and activists across the UK coming together to campaign on food justice and deliver innovative projects to tackle hunger in their communities, the problem is only getting worse.
“Our polling is clear – the buck stops with the Government.
“We need to enshrine a Right to Food in law so that no one is left to go hungry again.”
The Co-operative Party said while a Right to Food was recognised in international law, it “has not been specifically incorporated into UK law”.
It said placing it on the Statute Book would force the Government “to explore policies to address hunger – from “extending free school meals to supporting more sustainable supply chains and decent livelihoods for food producers”.
Labour and Co-operative MP Liam Byrne, who is bidding to become West Midlands Metro Mayor, said: “We’ve seen incredible local action during the crisis – Labour and Co-operative councillors and activists have funded holiday hunger programmes, delivered emergency food parcels, and developed food partnerships with charities and community groups.
“But without further support from Westminster, local leaders won’t have the tools they need to tackle food poverty on the ground.
“A ‘Right to Food in UK’ law would force the Government to improve their lacklustre response to tackling food poverty, and help feed hungry families in areas like mine in the West Midlands.”
A Government spokeswoman said: “We are committed to supporting the lowest-paid families through the pandemic and beyond, that’s why we have raised the living wage, boosted welfare support by billions of pounds and introduced £170million to help children and families stay warm and well-fed during the coldest months.”