Last week, 170 public health doctors and specialists wrote an open letter on food poverty to the PM, published in The Lancet. I signed this alarm call. The food industry is uncharacteristically silent about this mismatch of food prices, wages and health standards. Is its answer ever more Lidls and Aldis? Ever cheaper prices?

When recession hit, the emergence of food banks took centre stage. Their expansion has been explosive, giving food to 900,000 people in 2013-14, triple 2012-13. supermarkets now quietly allow customers to buy a few tins and donate in their premises.

FareShare, industry’s main response to a previous food poverty crisis, rolls on. Its waste-reduction approach focuses on distribution of unused or misshapen or sound but unsellable foods. 19th-century style soup kitchens, meanwhile, continue under arches everywhere.

Anyone studying or engaging with food poverty knows these different initiatives may be honourable but are sticking plaster. They neither resolve nor prevent the fundamental problem.

”The APPG on Hunger has started its inquiry. Things are stirring”

Government knows there’s a worrying gap in health circumstances and outcomes between rich and poor people in the UK. What George Osborne loves to call ‘hard-working families’ can live in poverty and eat badly due to squeezed incomes. Defra confirmed last month that UK food prices have risen 12% in real terms since 2007, returning the cost of food relative to other goods back to 1990s levels. In 2007-13, UK workers suffered a 7.6% fall in real wages. Incomes have fallen in the first significant manner since the 1960s.

A vicious circle has been created - lower wages, bad diets, ill health, all contributing to the normalisation of obesity, diabetes and diet-related diseases.

This is a structural problem that requires structural solutions. So far, parliament has held one inconclusive debate, which government ducked. The official response to The Lancet letter was not to deny the problem but to say it’s getting better, telling the Today programme tax cuts will help. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger and Food Poverty has started its inquiry led by Frank Field MP and the Bishop of Truro. Things are stirring. Watch this space.

Tim Lang is professor of food policy at City University London