THE Scottish Human Rights Commission has called for the right to food to be enshrined in law.

In a report to the Scottish Government, the commission argues new legislation is necessary because of rising food insecurity and the impacts of austerity.

Public authorities have also been urged to tackle inequalities in people’s access to adequate food.

READ MORE: Ministers to unveil plans to make right to food a legal obligation

The report highlights that household food insecurity is “unacceptably high” in Scotland with children going hungry during school holidays and parents and carers relying on emergency food banks.

The report states that none of Scotland’s dietary goals are being met and health inequalities are stark.

Rising economic insecurity, the continued impact of austerity-driven reductions in social security, climate change, and the way that food is produced, distributed and marketed are all contributing to difficulties in the supply, affordability and accessibility of food for people across Scotland, according to the report.

It echoes recommendations from the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to put in place national legislation to protect and realise the right to food.

READ MORE: Should we legislate against food poverty?

Case studies in the report to the Scottish Government​, which is holding a public consultation for a Good Food Nation Bill, show the precarious situation many people face.

One woman, who lives with her son in a rural area, said she often had to rely on food parcels from a local charitable group for single parents.

“To reach a low-cost supermarket is a three-mile walk, making it a six-mile round trip on foot with my baby in a buggy,” she said. “To get the bus would cost me five pounds which would take a significant chunk out of my weekly food budget.”

On one occasion her Universal Credit was delayed, leaving her with 85p in her bank account.

“I had run out of nappies and wipes and was worried I would have no money for milk or food for my son if it did not come through,” she said. “I had a food parcel delivered recently and I think I’ll need another this week.”

She said she had little support and information from public services, meaning she didn’t know she had to re-subscribe to Healthy Start Vouchers after her baby was born.

“It would have meant that I could buy milk and fresh and frozen fruit,” she said. “It wasn’t much per week but it would have helped.”

READ MORE: Scottish inequality gap increases as poverty deepens

Commission chair Judith Robertson said international law was clear that governments had obligations to take action to ensure people’s right to food is realised.

“The Scottish Human Rights Commission is calling on the Government to take action to incorporate the right to food into Scotland’s laws as part of its work to make Scotland a good food nation,” she said.

“We want to see the Scottish Government showing human rights leadership in a practical way.

“Bringing this kind of law into force would respond directly to recommendations from the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

“We have the opportunity in Scotland to take a rights-based approach to the food system as a whole, and to make people’s right to food more meaningful in practice by putting it into law. There is a real urgency to take these progressive steps now.”