The UK Government is facing calls to urgently strengthen welfare protections, including the introducing of an emergency basic payment, to help families who are struggling to put food on the table due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
The call comes after new research revealed almost a fifth of UK households with children have been going hungry over the past five weeks.
The Food Foundation found that with people across the UK losing their jobs and income due to the pandemic, affected households were seeing children having to skip meals.
While 30% of lone parents and 46% of parents with a disabled child are also facing food insecurity.
Earlier, the Trussell Trust reported an 81% spike in the number of emergency food parcels given out across the UK, including 122% more parcels going to children, compared to the same period in 2019.
The Independent Food Network also reported a 59% increase in demand between February and March, adding even more pressure on the UK Government.
Anna Taylor, executive director of the Food Foundation, told The Observer: “The government needs to move fast to protect vulnerable children and make them a priority.
“Having access to a nutritious diet is a basic human right. Struggling families need money in their pockets now and we need government to look urgently at income support and child benefits to provide solutions.”
Neil Gray MP, the SNP’s Shadow Work and Pensions spokesperson, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on households and families across the UK, and with this research showing that one fifth of households with children have been going hungry over the past five weeks, it is vital the UK government urgently acts to prevent people being pushed into hardship and hunger.
“The Chancellor must look to implement an emergency basic payment, strengthen welfare protections, and close the gaps in the schemes they have introduced so far, to help people through this crisis.
“The measures brought forward by the UK government so far have been welcome, but they can and must go further so people are not forced into an unbearable situation where they are unable to eat and are struggling to secure basic necessities.”