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Key points

  • Food insecurity is a complex problem with many interrelated causes. Creating a population in which everyone can access and afford sufficient, nutritious food will require action across multiple determinants, many of which operate at national and global levels. 
  • In this briefing, we explore what local government can do to address food insecurity in local communities. This includes the actions that local government can take to support residents experiencing or at risk of food insecurity. 
  • Local government has an important role to play in increasing food security in their local populations. But to enable this, national government must provide sufficient and sustainable funding to enable long-term planning of preventive approaches. National government action is also needed across relevant departments and with the food industry to create a food system that provides affordable and accessible nutritious food for everyone in the UK, while also benefitting the economy and environment. 
  • To inform effective action at national and local level, there is a need to build the evidence base about what works in practice, both to prevent food insecurity and to support those affected by it. 

Everyone should be able to access and afford enough good food to live a healthy life. But this is not currently the case in the UK, where levels of food insecurity have risen in recent years. More than 1 in 6 UK households reported experiencing moderate or severe food insecurity in January 2023, meaning they had eaten less or skipped meals because they could not afford or access food. 

Food insecurity is a complex problem and poverty is a key driver. There are, however, actions that local government can take, both through taking steps to prevent people at risk from experiencing food insecurity, and through targeted support for those who need it. This briefing looks at evidence-based actions local government can take to increase household food security among local populations.

Addressing poverty must be central to preventing food insecurity, and there are limits to the steps that local government can take without national government action. We therefore make recommendations for local government, national government and explain the role research funders and academics can have in building the evidence base. 

Cite this publication

Page B, Marshall L. Food insecurity – what can local government do? The Health Foundation; 2023 (https://doi.org/10.37829/HF-2023-HL02).

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