Anne Jenkin, who is the Baroness of Kennington and a sitting peer in the House of Lords, will join tomorrow (1 September).
A member of a longstanding Essex farming family based near Chelmsford, she is a keen gardener and cook and was elevated to the peerage in 2011 for her charity work and her efforts to increase the number of women in Parliament.
She co-founded the campaign group Women2Win with Prime Minister Theresa May and is a trustee of UNICEF UK, The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), Cool Earth and Feeding Britain and an officer of the All-Party Parliamentary Agroecology Group.
Jenkin joins the college in time for its first term as a university college with Taught Degree Awarding Powers.
She said: "My roots lie deep down in the Essex soil and Writtle’s excellent reputation is something I was brought up with. It is an immense honour to have been invited to be the university college founding chancellor and I am looking forward to supporting Writtle’s aspirations, to make the most of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead."
Jenkin caused a furore in 2014 when she said "poor people don't know how to cook" at a House of Commons press conference to launch a major Parliamentary report on food poverty, which found that four million people in the UK could not afford basic meals.
She subsequently apologised and said she had meant to talk about the loss of traditional cooking skills, which had led to some people being unable to make affordable meals from scratch.
She has also appeared on BBC1 documentary Britain’s Secret Spending Habits, where she recommended shopping at Aldi, straining homemade marmalade pith through old tights and using folded squares of kitchen roll instead of paper filters when making coffee, as money-saving tips.
Writtle vice chancellor Dr Stephen Waite, said he was extremely pleased and proud that Jenkin had decided to join Writtle.
"Baroness Jenkin is a very well-respected and well-connected individual who brings a wealth of experience. I am looking forward to working closely with her during a landmark period in Writtle’s long and proud history.
"There are exciting times ahead as we continue to deliver academic excellence for our students to move onto careers that make a positive impact across the world.
"I would also take this opportunity to thank our leaving Patron Alan Titchmarsh for the great work he has done supporting Writtle over the last 15 years, playing a key role in helping us achieve our aspirations."