More than three million people (6%) in Great Britain have gone hungry since lockdown began three weeks ago, reporting that someone in their household has been unable to eat, despite being hungry, because they did not have enough food.  This is our second poll since lockdown, and in this one we asked about experiences of food insecurity using standard questions. 

Have a look at the Food Foundation’s COVID-19 tracker here, and read Dr Rachel Loopstra’s in-depth analysis of the figures in this preliminary report.

A new YouGov poll commissioned by the Food Foundation and the FFCC (Food, Farming and Countryside Commission) found that 1.5 million (3%) have gone whole day without eating since the lockdown came into effect, and 7.1 million (14%) say someone in their household has had to reduce or skip meals because they could not access or afford sufficient sustenance.  

Of the 8.1 million people (16%) facing food insecurity, 21% didn’t have enough money to buy adequate food supplies, 50% were unable to get the food they needed from the shops due to shortages and 25% were unable to leave their homes and had no other way to get the food they needed.  Given that shortages have subsided, a proportion of the problem may be short term.

Just three weeks into the lockdown, more than three million (6%) have already had to borrow money or take out personal loans as a result of COVID-19, though this has not increased in the last 14 days. 2% of respondents, equivalent to more than one million people, said they’ve lost all of their income, but 43% of those who reported a drop in income think they are not entitled to help from the government.  

The Food Foundation is calling on the government to:

SCALE UP THE NATIONAL FOOD RESPONSE and establish a National Food Aid Task Force led by DEFRA to:

  • Support local authorities to significantly scale up welfare assistance schemes and provide nutritious food parcels for people who are self-isolating, building on the best practice emerging from local authorities like Greenwich, Hackney and Brighton
  • Significantly scale up home delivery options for those who are self-isolating by working with supermarkets, small businesses and volunteer groups.


  • Ensure people can buy the food they need to stay healthy at home. DWP needs to abolish the five-week wait for Universal Credit. The current option for advance payment simply forces people to face hardship now or later.
  • They should also make child benefit a fortnightly payment (thereby doubling it) and simultaneously remove the benefit cap.

The government’s free school meal replacement programme means that 63% of the households with children (aged 8-16y)  eligible for free school meals report receiving a substitute –up from 54% two weeks ago and 62% say they will be getting support during the Easter holiday, thanks in part to the government’s decision to extend the free school meal voucher scheme beyond term-time. This shows encouraging movement in the right direction, but will still leave 507,000 children without the free school meals on which they relied before the lockdown, and more than 260,000 will still not receive the support they need over the holidays.  

  1. Calculations made by the Food Foundation using mid-year population estimates. 
  2. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 4343 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 7th – 9th April 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).