Yesterday’s Environmental Audit Committee report on food insecurity shows that this Government’s failed policies are leaving people hungry. But where the Government is failing to take action, the co-operative movement is already working to help.

According to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the Government has a responsibility to “end hunger and achieve food security”.

However, yesterday’s report concludes that the Government is failing to meet this goal, leaving many people vulnerable to the devastating effects of food poverty. Cuts to local services, the crippling effects of Universal Credit and failures to address food waste all contribute towards increasing food poverty and insecurity, a desperate problem which must be urgently addressed.

Despite being one of the world’s richest countries, Oxfam have found that over 2 million people in the UK are malnourished, and another 3 million at risk of becoming malnourished. Last year, more than 500,000 people turned to foodbanks. In areas hit by Universal Credit, foodbank use has risen 52% in the first year of its rollout. One in four low-income families now struggle to eat regularly, forcing schools to provide breakfast for hungry students. With no end to austerity in sight, this problem shows no sign of going away – but the Government is yet to take action to solve it.

Food justice has been fundamental to the co-operative movement since it was founded in Rochdale, with a focus on providing good quality, affordable food for ordinary people. And the movement continues to lead the way today.

Launched last month, The Pioneer Pantry is a community shop, owned and run by its members. It provides vital cupboard essentials and fresh products to local residents suffering from food insecurity. Profits fund training courses and qualifications in food handling, as well as meals for the most vulnerable individuals. Shops like this can work at the heart of communities to tackle food poverty effectively.

Co-operative politicians are leading the way in this fight too. In Scotland, our Co-operative MSPs are calling for legislation to tackle food poverty, by pushing Holyrood to recognise the right to food in law. And in local government, co-operative councils like Lambeth and Plymouth are making a difference with innovative solutions – from food partnerships with the local community to co-operative approaches to tackling holiday hunger.

Where the Tory Government is failing miserably to provide security and support for those most in need, co-operators and our movement are stepping up to help.