A number of MPs are calling on the government to create a minister for hunger role in order to deal with food insecurity in the UK.
According to Unicef, 19% of British children under 15 live with adults who struggle to buy food. The Environmental Audit Committee said this figure showed that ministers have failed to recognise or respond to the hunger problem in the UK.
MPs on the committee want to see the appointment of a new minister with "responsibility and accountability for combating hunger and food insecurity within the UK". Such a role would be likely to involve evaluating the causes and impact of hunger, and creating strategies to improve the situation.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Work and Pensions said that 300,000 children had been brought out of poverty since 2010.
"Household incomes have never been higher and the number of children living in workless households is at a record low, but we know there's more to do ensure that every family has access to nutritious, healthy food," she said.
"We already provide support through free school meals and our Healthy Start Vouchers."
Such a role would be likely to involve evaluating the causes and impact of hunger, and creating strategies to improve the situation
However, MPs say the number of people without reliable access to affordable, nutritious food is "significant and growing", and the unemployed, sick and people with children are most likely to be affected.
Labour MP Mary Creagh, who is chairwoman of the committee, said it is urgent action that’s needed:
"The combination of high living costs, stagnating wages and often, the rollout of Universal Credit and the wider benefits system, means that levels of hunger in Britain are some of the highest across Europe”.
She added it was a “scandal which cannot be allowed to continue”.
Emma Revie, chief executive of The Trussell Trust, which runs more than 420 food banks across the UK, welcomed the idea of a hunger minister: "Although food bank volunteers are providing vital support to those in crisis, no charity can replace people having enough money for the basics.
"To end hunger, we need to understand the true scale of the challenge, and work across government to ensure everyone is anchored from being swept into poverty."