New research by the Co-operative Party reveals almost half of principal authorities in England and Scotland have appointed cabinet or lead-level members for food poverty.
The Party now hopes to work with other councils to develop a range of local responses to hunger and a lack of access to healthy food, as part of a wider campaign on the issue.
The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal that 45% (66/149) of respondents have a council member with specific portfolio responsibilities for food poverty.
And 38% (58/149) of councils confirmed that they were working closely with local voluntary, community and social enterprises running food banks or community shops to address hunger in their communities.
Through its Campaign for Food Justice, the Co-op Party says it will work with councils to develop local responses. This includes steps such as designating a lead member with responsibility for food, creating a food action plan, working with a local food partnership and measuring the scale of the problem in their area.
Jim McMahon MP, chair of the Party’s Parliamentary Group, said: “Councils are at the sharp end of having to deal with the effect of years of austerity; a dysfunctional economy that no longer provides fair pay for far too many, and a broken housing market. This is causing the return of hunger to families and communities in the sixth richest country in the world.”
Hackney became the first council to respond to the new research, with mayor Philip Glanville confirming that the London borough will be supporting the campaign: “I am delighted that as part of the Co-operative Party’s fight for common decency, they are taking the lead to campaign for food justice.
“Hackney is proud to stand with the Co-operative Party in the fight to eradicate food poverty. Our work with them is the first step in our joint campaign to end food poverty in Hackney and nationwide, but national government needs to follow our lead.”