Food for thought

Research commissioned by Church Urban Fund and conducted by ComRes, has shed light on the extent of food poverty in Britain.

Below you can see what this survey of 2,048 British adults tells us about household food insecurity in Britain in terms of hunger, anxiety, isolation, and money. 

Full data tables are available at:



One in 50 of those surveyed said that they had used a food bank during 2016. This equates to nearly 1 million adults (0.95 million) across Britain. Even more people (1 out of 20 adults) said they had missed meals in the past 12 months because they could not afford food.

This demonstrates that the extent of food poverty reaches far beyond food banks and into the homes of millions of people who have had to miss meals without reaching out for help. 


The impact of food poverty extends beyond hunger. 13% of respondents said they had experienced worry or anxiety about being able to afford enough food for themselves or their family during 2016.


Social isolation is another serious consequence of food poverty. According to our survey, 1 in 10 British adults have missed celebrating a birthday, Christmas, or other special occasion because they could not afford it. 

In addition, less than half of those surveyed shared a meal with family or friends at least once a month last year. 

Loneliness is a growing concern in contemporary society, and the inability to afford food can increase people’s isolation, preventing them from participating in ordinary social activities which are important for wellbeing.


Low income is the major factor behind household food insecurity in Britain.

This research shows that in the last year 1 in 3 British adults have worried about not having enough money left over every month to save for the future. Without such a safety net, it is very difficult for households to cope with financial shocks.

Learn more

You can download the Church Urban Fund report into food poverty to find out more about the issues that are addressed by this research and to take a look at how we can respond as a country. 


Although these figures are a cause for concern, there are hopeful stories. Learn more about how Church Urban Fund has been changing lives and see transformation in action. 


How can we respond?

Food poverty is not an issue that can be resolved by charities, churches, faith groups and community groups alone, important though these contributions are. A collaborative and concerted response is needed across all sectors of society including government, employers and civil society.

At Church Urban Fund we are responding through our Together Network, both by meeting immediate need and tackling the structural issues behind food poverty. This has included contributing written and oral evidence to food poverty inquiries, drawing on extensive local engagement; supporting holiday programmes that provide food, along with fun activities and friendship; bringing local organisations together to collate evidence around the impacts of Universal Credit in Norfolk; and coordinating a network of over 70 organisations involved in responding to food poverty in Lancashire.


If you want to respond practically through the Church Urban Fund, you can donate today to fund our work to bring an end to hunger in our communities.