A further 1.5 million children should be brought into the free school meals programme, while poorer youngsters should also be fed during the school holidays, a government-ordered review has said.

The National Food Strategy, led by Leon restaurant founder Henry Dimbleby, said urgent government action is needed in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, and described the country’s diet as a “slow-motion disaster”.

It warned that poorer children risk being “left behind”, adding: “One of the miserable legacies of Covid-19 is likely to be a dramatic increase in unemployment and poverty, and therefore hunger.

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