Food Insecurity Tracking
We run regular nationally representative surveys to assess UK food insecurity levels.
Food insecurity (sometimes referred to as food poverty) is the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. To assess the impact of household food insecurity across the UK, The Food Foundation has been commissioning a series of nationally representative surveys since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic. We track and report on people’s experiences of food insecurity particularly focusing on vulnerable groups such as families, BAME and ethnic groups, people with disabilities and children on Free School Meals.
5.2 million adults
(9.9% of households) experienced food insecurity between February and August 2021.
This remains higher than pre-Covid levels of 7.6%.
2.5 million children
live in households that have experienced food insecurity in the past six months (Feb to Aug 2021)
These levels are approximately 27% higher than before Covid.
2.3 million children
have directly experienced food insecurity in the past month (11.6% of households with children).
This is 81% higher than August 2020.
Overview of surveys
Link to press release: ID 563
Children's Food Programmes (Part 1)
Link to press release: ID 218
Children's Food Programmes (Part 2)
Link to press release: ID 552
Securing a National Measurement of Food Insecurity
The Food Foundation's work to date on securing the measurement of food insecurity and ongoing tracking in the UK.
In 2016 there was no official measurement of food poverty rates at the national level in the UK. The Food Foundation has done considerable work with others to secure national monitoring of food poverty (otherwise known as household food insecurity) in the UK. The lack of robust data prevented effective policies to tackle the problem from being developed. Between 2016 and 2019 the Food Foundation campaigned for national monitoring of household food insecurity to be introduced.
In early 2016, the Food Foundation, Sustain, Oxfam and the Food Research Collaboration co-organised a meeting of experts to discuss the national measurement of food insecurity at City University. Following the workshop we published Time to Count the Hungry.
Following this publication of this report we worked closely with Dr. Rachel Loopstra, Sustain, and Nourish Scotland to advocate for the report’s key recommendation – that government should incorporate a measure of food insecurity into a regular national survey tool – to be adopted. We also worked to inform the End Hunger UK campaign – a national project which aimed to tackle the root causes of food insecurity in the UK, and to secure government commitment to regularly and robustly assess the scale of this challenge.
In September 2016 we published a policy briefing with Sustain and University of Oxford on why we must measure food insecurity in the UK.
The was followed by a further briefing in November 2016 laying out what data on food insecurity was available at the time.
On the 6th December 2016 Emma Lewell-Buck MP lead a Westminster Hall Debate on the measurement of household food insecurity. Ms Lewell-Buck subsequently introduced a 10-minute rule bill on measuring food insecurity.
In February 2019, after years of campaigning, the Department of Work and Pensions committed to start measuring household food insecurity as part of the annual Family Resources Survey. We responded to the announcement here. Data on household food insecurity was published as part of the Family Resources Survey for the first time in 2021, and will now be reported on annually.