More than five million people in the United Kingdom suffered food insecurity during 2014 - with almost half of them experiencing hunger over the course of the year, according to a United Nations report.
The UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation estimated that a total of 8.4 million people lived in a household where at least one person aged 15 or over was classed as "food insecure" - meaning they were either experiencing hunger, skipping meals for lack of funds, cutting down on quantity or quality of food out of financial necessity or worrying about whether they could afford to buy food.
Of these, 5.3 million over-15s were believed to have personally experienced moderate or severe food insecurity, including 2.3 million who suffered severe insecurity - actually going hungry.
The chairman of the House of Commons All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger, Labour MP Frank Field, described the report as "a major contribution to the debate on hunger in our country".
Mr Field said: "We now know for the first time the scale of the challenge confronting the nation to ensure all of us can afford to buy and eat a decent meal without needing to rely on food banks.
"As things stand, there are potentially five million people who are just one large bill away from needing to use a food bank.
"The APPG is working with the UK Statistics Authority to set up a way of measuring each year the numbers of families at risk of being without food, and, crucially, the reasons why.
"Such a development is so crucial if we are to secure the appropriate reform programme to not only reduce the length of food bank queues, but also to eradicate hunger in its entirety from our shores."