CHURCH and mosque leaders last night pledged action to help hard-pressed mums and dads ensure their children were fed properly.

Bishop of Blackburn Julian Henderson and Lancashire Council of Mosques chairman Adbul Hamid Qureshi expressed their concern at the Telegraph’s revelations.

Dean of Blackburn Christopher Armstrong said it was time for Northern community spirit to fight back against the problem of malnutrition in East Lancashire.

Bishop Julian said: “It is a real sadness to read that Blackburn with Darwen has the highest percentage of underweight children in England.

“We know of food poverty in other parts of the world though we should never become used to such a tragedy and inequality. But for it to be on our own doorstep is a rebuke and challenge to us as a local community.

“These latest statistics say something about the way we have chosen to treat one another and the consequences that follow.

“More jobs and an increased income make a huge difference, but money has to be managed well and used wisely.

“For there to be these kind of statistics in 2014 in our own community is a real cry for action, and especially when there is claimed to be such a problem at the other end of the scale with obesity.

“Foodbanks continue to need support and resources, as one of the ways food poverty can be held at bay.”

Mr Qureshi said: “Lancashire Council of Mosques will do all we can to tackle this problem.

“These are shocking and disturbing statistics.

“We need to do all we can with our health campaigns and charities to tackle this problem across all out communities.”

Dean Armstrong said: “Sadly I am not surprised by these figures.

“Churches and Mosques already do a lot on this issue.

“The Northern sense of community is very strong. We need to call on it to tackle this problem in East Lancashire but I accept it is a very big ask.”