UNITED NATIONS - A UN special task force on the world food crisis gripping the globe met for the first time on Monday with the aim of designing an action plan to combat high prices and food shortages. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who opened the meeting,  stressed the need for urgency to help the millions of people already suffering as a result of the crisis. In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Ban said that he recognizes that skyrocketing prices of basic food commodities "is essentially linked to the global demand for food exceeding supply," but cautioned that "the drivers of the crisis are complex and the consequences are varied." The task force - which brings together the heads of many of members of the UN family, as well as leaders of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund - seeks to "promote a unified response to the global food price challenge in support of governments and affected populations." Today's gathering centred on creating a comprehensive plan to tackle the soaring food prices. This strategy will encompass both short and longer-term measures - including food aid and social protection - to alleviate the impact of the crisis on the hardest hit. The elements of the task force's plan will be presented at next month's high-level meeting in Rome hosted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on global food security. Last week, the Secretary-General appealed to world leaders to join him at that meeting. "Please come with fresh ideas. It is time for real commitment and real action," he said. Task force members today urged countries to not to take actions that would aggravate the current surge in food prices, and stressed that nations need to allow in food supplies, from such organizations as the UN World Food Programme (WFP), for humanitarian purposes without obstructions. Over the coming weeks, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes, the task force's coordinator, and Assistant Secretary-General David Nabarro will consult with Member States as required, while the task force itself will meet as needed.