Measure the problem – Co-operative Party

We welcome the recent victory of campaigners in persuading the Government to measure food insecurity nationally, but frustratingly there is little granular evidence of the extent of hunger at a local level.

Councils, community leaders and Co-operative Party members can play an important role in pulling together what data there is and looking at new ways to measure the scale of the problem which will shape their responses to it.

Typically, measuring the scale of the problem would form part of developing a Food Action Plan. However, there are forms of food mapping which can be done with limit resources and can be done irrespective of whether you intend to develop an Action Plan.

Ways to measure and map the problem


Scrutiny investigations offer a powerful way to explore the extent of problems locally. Brent Council undertook in 2017 an investigation into the use of food banks in the Borough and the subsequent report not only provides a powerful evidence base for future work, it provides a compelling set of recommendations for the Council (and others) to consider. Scrutiny can be an effective avenue for opposition groups wishing to raise the profile and evidence base on food poverty.


There are different types of mapping which can be carried out including community food mapping and food desert mapping.

The largest recent mapping of food deserts in the UK was undertaken by Kellogg's. They produced an interactive map and a report . More local mapping has been sporadically undertaken, such as work produced by the South Wales Food Poverty Alliance. Such detailed work is beyond local groups.

However, community food mapping is done at an "ultra local" level and could be done by volunteers, council candidates or an active Co-operative Party branch. This information can be used to raise the attention of the problem of food poverty in a local area.

Household survey

A number of councils are exploring including questions on food insecurity as part of their household survey. This approach has the benefit of complementing what the Government has pledged to measure; the downside is that the DWP will not publish the data until 2021.


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8 million people in the UK struggle to put on the table and are ‘food insecure’.

That’s why we’re calling on Government and the other main political parties to support incorporating Sustainable Development Goal 2 (“zero hunger by 2030”) into UK law.

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