Going back to the land will help the health and pockets of those unable to afford a proper diet, says Leeds City Council.
Up to 160 of 4,000 overgrown vacant allotments around the city are planned for the needy to grow their own greens in a 'dig for victory' campaign.
Cherril Cliff, chairwoman of city council's health sub-committee, said she wanted the land to be given free, waiving the pounds 24 annual rent. 'It would help those who have little money but lots of gardening interest. We might be able to give them grants to buy seeds and gardening tools.
'There's no point letting good land go to waste. If people don't have much money then it makes sense for them to save and grow their own food. People were often healthier in wartime when they were more self- sufficient. We should not forget how to see ourselves through the bad times.'
The green scheme is the idea of an NHS diet expert, Carolyn Hull, who said: 'Growing your own food not only keeps costs down but may encourage young people to enjoy healthy food. Most people in this country don't eat enough fruit and veg, and those on low incomes suffer the worst.'
Gerald Kellard, manager of the council's allotments, said: 'It's an excellent idea. I've had to turn away dozens of jobless people who wanted an allotment but couldn't afford it. Everyone should be able to discover the joy of working on an allotment.'