More than two million adults in the UK have gone without food for a whole day over the past month because they cannot afford to eat.
According to the latest survey conducted by the Food Foundation thinktank, there has been a 57% jump in the proportion of households cutting back on food or skipping meals over the first three months of this year, with one in seven adults (7.3 million) estimated to be food-insecure, up from 4.7 million in January.
Furthermore, the group’s research discovered that millions more people – including 2.6 million children – report they now have smaller meals than usual, regularly skip meals altogether or do not eat when they are hungry.
As a result, food insecurity returns to levels last seen at the start of the first national lockdown – although food scarcity in those early months was driven by panic buying and supply problems.
Food banks have reported that energy costs are so prohibitive for some people they request charity food parcels that do not need to be cooked using a cooker or stored in a fridge or freezer.
The rapid deterioration in food security reflects soaring energy, food and petrol prices coupled with below-inflation benefit rises.
“The extremely rapid rise in food insecurity since January points to a catastrophic situation for families,” the Food Foundation’s executive director Anna Taylor said to The Guardian.
Food insecurity puts families under extreme mental stress and forces people to survive on the cheapest calories, which lead to health problems.”
The news comes after last week George Eustice, the environment, food and rural affairs secretary, urged consumers to switch to value brands to save on grocery spending in response to rising prices.
“Generally speaking, what people find is by going for some sort of value brand rather than own branded products they can actually contain and manage their household budget,” Eustice said to Sky News.