The Covid-19 pandemic led to an unprecedented rise in food insecurity in the UK, a new study has found.
Food insecurity rose during the pandemic driven by a reduction in income and reduced access to affordable food, according to a review by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and think tank Demos.
An estimated 14 per cent of households – 4 million people, including 2.3 million children – experienced moderate or severe food insecurity in the six months following the start of the March 2020 lockdown, compared to 11.5 per cent before the pandemic, the Food Foundation found in September 2020.
A poll for the FSA found that 40 per cent of people had helped others by shopping for food for someone who was self-isolating during the pandemic, with 23 per cent having received this kind of support for themselves.
Just under two thirds (63 per cent) agreed that ‘it is the government’s responsibility to make sure no-one goes hungry’ and 59 per cent support children getting free school meals during the holiday after the pandemic.
The report also found that there has been a complex shift in people’s diets during Covid-19, with 51 per cent cooking at home more, 32 per cent eating more healthy meals, but 33 per cent more eating unhealthy snacks.
Those who have cooked more or eaten healthier main meals tend to expect this change to continue.
Emily Miles, Chief Executive of the FSA, said: “It’s clear from this research that our experiences of food have diverged widely during the pandemic.
“While some have seen eating habits improve, and potentially made lifelong improvements to their diets, others have struggled to feed themselves and their families.
“All of us in government must now reflect on what this means for the future of food and public health.”
Picture: A volunteer helps out at a foodbank.