Concern at rise in use of food aid across UK
The rise in the number of people who need food banks or who cannot afford a weekly shop in Britain "has all the signs of a public health emergency", experts have warned.
In a letter to the British Medical Journal (BMJ), scientists and leaders of public health criticised the government for delaying publication of research it commissioned into the rise in emergency food aid. They argued that access to enough food "is the most basic of human needs and rights".
They said: "The number of malnutrition-related admissions to hospital in England has doubled since 2008/09.
"Furthermore, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has reported a decrease in calories purchased and substitution with unhealthier foods, especially in families with young children.
"Against a backdrop of rising food prices, figures from the Trussell Trust show an exponential rise in the number of people being issued food bank vouchers by frontline care professionals," they said.
"This has all the signs of a public health emergency that could go unrecognised until it is too late to take action."
A government spokesman said: "The benefits system supports millions of people who are on low incomes or unemployed and there is no robust evidence that welfare reforms are linked to increased use of food banks."