Should we expect better! An assessment of UK Political Party Manifesto commitments to addressing issues with the UK food system  

By Graham Brown: CVS Operations and Insight lead and Food Coordination lead

Food lobby groups, Academics, Charities, Activists and many others would all argue the current UK food system isn’t working. Yet food is a huge part of all our lives, nourishing and fuelling us. It impacts our health (poor diet is now the biggest risk for preventable disease, placing massive strain on our NHS) happiness and overall prosperity: one in seven UK workers is employed in the food system, which contributes over £120 billion to the UK economy.  

So, now that all the main UK political parties have released their Manifestos for Government, we’ve had a look at each in the context of UK food system. Whilst there have been no significant announcements about food or food policy – strange when you look at the stats above, there have been some broad pointers of what to expect: the importance of food security and improving things for UK farmers (but no specific mention of Horticulture (which could support the growth of the school fruit and veg scheme). No mention of the continuation of that scheme (over 120 schools in Cheshire East sign up to it), there may be free school breakfast clubs for every primary school pupil (great news!), and we will get a National Food Strategy.  

There are all steps in the right direction. But there’s no firm commitments to address facts such as the Trussell Trust distributing more than 3.1 million emergency food parcels (1.2m for Children) (23/24) or 14.8% of households (20% with Children) experiencing food insecurity in January 2024 (rising to 45% if families are on Universal Credit).  

Party Manifestos - summaries 

Below is a summary of the main UK Political Paty Manifestos evaluated across a range of topics:  


Political party 





Lib Dem 

Food Strategy 

No mention 

No mention 

No mention 


Food Security 

Legally binding target to enhance our food security / alongside UK Food Security Index 

Boost domestic 

food production 


Fair wages for growers increase the amount of food in the UK / locally 

In the context of supporting British farmers 

Through a National Food Strategy 

Household food insecurity 

No mention of foodbanks or other community food support 

Mention of foodbanks – but not what they are going to do about it 

Fair prices for consumers 

Reducing food prices 

End dependencies on emergency food parcels 


End food poverty 

Tackling rising food prices 


School food 

Mention of free school meals – but no commitment to increase / expand 

No mention of any of the existing schemes such as National School Breakfast programme  

All children to have a free school 

meal each day and free breakfast 

clubs for children to Year 6 

Schools to involve children 

in growing, preparing and 

cooking food, as part of the core 



Free breakfast clubs in every school 

No commitment to any existing scheme 

Extend free school meals to all children in poverty, all primary school children when the public finances allow 

No mention of any of the existing schemes such as National School Breakfast programme 

Health Inequalities 

Legislate to restrict the advertising of 

products high in fat, salt and sugar  

Gather new evidence on the impact of ultra processed food to support people to make healthier choices 

No commitment to existing schemes such as Healthy Start 

Taking on the unhealthy food lobby 

Producing more healthy, nutritious food 

No commitment to existing schemes such as Healthy Start 


Banning junk food advertising aimed at children 

Banning energy drinks for under 16s  

No commitment to existing schemes such as Healthy Start 


Improve health and nutrition 

Protecting children from exposure to junk food by supporting local authorities to restrict outdoor advertising and restricting TV advertising to post-watershed 

No commitment to existing schemes such as Healthy Start 


Food for the planet 

At least 50% of public sector food is produced locally or to higher environmental 

production standards 

Good quality surplus food is not wasted 

Financial support for farmers to be almost tripled to support 

their transition to nature-friendly 


Half of all public sector food to produced locally 

Environmental land management schemes 


Rollout of the new Environmental Land Management  to support 

profitable, sustainable and nature-friendly farming. 

Public procurement policy to support the consumption of food produced to high standards of environmental and social sustainability, and which is nutritious, healthy and locally and seasonally sourced 


Cheshire East context 

In terms of what is important in Cheshire East and, part of our Right to Food strategy, there is no commitment to the following…  

  • a cash-first solution to addressing household food insecurity - helping to lift people out of poverty and reducing food bank use significantly  
  • extending the Household Support fund – a key support mechanism for Local Authorities to help the most vulnerable families  
  • a continuation of existing School food initiatives such as breakfast programmes and the free fruit and veg scheme – for some children this may be their only means of breakfast / and or fruit and veg   
  • Healthy Start and in particular auto enrolment – which would address the persistent low uptake.   

This is just a small selection of Food related issues. If you are interested in what else is being asked for then please refer to Food NGOs - The Food Foundation and Sustain Manifestos for more detail.   

What's next?  

Why not get out to hustings or email the prospective parliamentary candidates standing in the area you work in. To help we have created a Hub  with a range of resources – including a letter  that can be sent to the parliamentary candidates standing in the four constituencies that make up Cheshire East.  

Disclaimer: CVS Cheshire East cannot make any guarantees about news, events and training that have been submitted from external sources