An explosion in poverty-related hunger in Britain is putting the government in danger of failing to meet its international human rights obligations to its most vulnerable citizens, charities have warned.
The UK is a signatory to a UN economic and social rights convention that sets out minimum standards of access to food, clothing and housing.
Campaigners say austerity measures could put the UK in breach of the convention as welfare cuts threaten to leave hundreds of thousands of low-income households unable to afford to eat regularly and healthily.
A 70-strong consortium of charities, including Crisis, the Citizens Advice Bureau, Age UK, the Disability Rights Alliance and the Child Poverty Action Group, has been formed to monitor the growth in UK food poverty, with a view to the possibility of triggering a formal UN investigation.
The consortium says the huge rise in emergency foodbanks over the past two years, and widespread evidence that children are arriving at school hungry and that poorer families are facing a stark financial choice between "heating or eating", will be exacerbated by welfare reforms that come into force in April.