A quarter of a million children are living in food poverty in London, with 14 per cent of under-16s in the capital facing “low” or “very low” food security, a new report warns.
Research by the Labour-run London Assembly finds that London boroughs make up five of the top ten UK areas with the highest levels of child poverty.
Child food poverty rates in Tower Hamlets, east London, are close to double the national average, according to a report from City Hall.
The report, Growing Hungry: The Call for a Childhood Hunger Commission for London, reveals that the cost of a grocery shop is currently at a 42-year record high with food inflation above 14 per cent.
Further research from Food Foundation found that food insecurity has doubled nationally in 2022.
London Assembly member, Marina Ahmad, described the findings as “heart-breaking”.
She said: “People are no longer choosing between eating or heating. All too often they cannot afford either. Too many parents are giving up meals every day so that their children can eat.”
The findings have sparked calls for Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to launch a Childhood Hunger Commission for London.
It would campaign for universal free school meals for all primary and secondary school children during term time and school holidays across the capital.
Responding to the London Assembly’s report, Katherine Hill, project manager at 4in10, London’s Child Poverty Network, said: “The report recognises that this requires an urgent response in the form of immediate monetary support to those in greatest need.”
Chris Price, chief executive of Pecan, a Peckham-based community charity, added: “Children need to be able to have access to healthy foods every day, through term time and holidays. This will build a stronger, healthier and more engaged new generation.
“For far too long we have seen the number of people visiting foodbanks go up and up… This is not a sustainable way to live for anyone.”