It is respectful of the steps taken at the outset of the pandemic last year to protect supplies when ‘panic buying’ took hold with no thought for the plight of key workers or vulnerable. It should not take a public inquiry, when it comes, for lessons to be learned and for a Minister to be given full responsibility for food security – this issue is too important to be left to future chance.
Equally the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, headed by Tory MP Neil Parish, believes better provision needs to be made in future for children eligible for free meals – many were only spared even greater hunger, and hardship, by the intervention of Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford.
Again, it will do a disservice to vulnerable families, and also the work of this committee, if this report is ignored and allowed to gather dust in the basement of a Whitehall department.
After all, its many recommendations are underpinned by repeated reference to the importance and availability of “affordable nutritious food” – a conclusion that this newspaper, for one, supports if it leads to greater recognition for British farmers and food growers. As well as being viewed through the prism of a pandemic, it should also be the basis for future policy on healthier living if the nation’s obesity epidemic, an issue that has not gone away, is to be addressed in a meaningful way.