Skip to main content

Food rationing needed to ensure health, equity and decency, urge experts

3 April 2020

Image of fresh fruit and vegetables at a market

Professor Terry Marsden, Director of the Sustainable Places Research Institute, has co-authored a letter to the Prime Minister urging him to immediately introduce food rationing to prevent the UK running short of fresh fruit and vegetables in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The letter, co-written by Professor Tim Lang of the University of London and Professor Erik Millstone of the University of Essex, warns that much of the fresh food upon which the UK depends, comes from Spain and Italy, the two European countries hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.

The experts estimate that approximately 8.4 million people in the UK could have less food than they need, and food banks will be unable to cope with the new demand. They also urge consideration of the implications that more people will be eating at home, due to the closure of restaurants and cafes.

The letter calls for the government to:

  • Initiate a health-based food rationing scheme based on Public Health England’s Eatwell Plate and draw on expertise from the devolved administrations, and relevant disciplines.
  • Rapidly review options for ensuring people on low incomes have sufficient money to buy a decent diet, or introduce a national voucher scheme redeemable for nutritionally sound purchases such as fruit and vegetables.
  • Ensure that nutritionally appropriate food can and will be delivered to all those who self-isolate or are quarantined.
  • Announce that this new Food Rationing Scheme will be open, equitable and based on health needs, taking account of age, income, and vulnerability, and that this will be applied UK-wide.
  • Amend the Agriculture Bill, currently before Parliament, to include a new clause to ensure that the people of the United Kingdom will be fed well, healthily, equitably and sustainably.

Share this story