Food Poverty and Children in 21st Century Britain

More???? – Source: Author

What is it our Eton educated prime minister doesn’t understand about poverty, child hunger and government responsibility? There are children in this country who are hungry today. Many people and organizations are helping but are Johnson and the government doing enough?

Johnson, his government and the majority of the Tory MPs recently voted against extending the free school meals through the upcoming holidays. They now have egg on their faces over their handling of this issue. Such a waste; the eggs could have been used to feed the hungry children.

How is it that in the middle of a national emergency and global pandemic, when multiple billions are being spent on a failing test and trace system and expensive projects such as the ‘eat out to help out’ scheme and more that £6,000 a day is being paid to consultants that some of our most vulnerable families and their children are not being decently fed? A government that can spend further millions promoting yet another ‘Get Ready for Brexit’ advertising campaign while children go hungry would seem not only to have lost its moral compass, its also lost the plot.

The government, including many of our local MPs, voted down a Labour motion calling on the government to extend free school meals over the holidays up to and including the Easter break next year. If some children require free school meals in term time, surely they will also require meals during the holidays? Especially during a national emergency!

Five Tory MPs did vote for the motion, including Robert Halfon who recognised, “If the Government wants to look at it in terms of taxpayer cost-benefit and attainment, breakfast clubs are a no-brainerv Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green said, “Today’s proposals are not a silver bullet, and they will not end child poverty. They are a sticking plaster, but one that is badly and urgently needed.” The Liberal Democrat MP Daisy Cooper urged the government to follow the lead of the Welsh government and provide free school meals during holidays to stop children going hungry.

Another Daisy (aged 12) also voiced her disgust to her MP on Twitter:

A Letter from Daisy – Source: Twitter

Even before the Covid pandemic, more than four million children, in one of the richest countries in the world, were growing up in poverty; their access to adequate nutrition compromised. Beyond the misery and stress of not knowing where the next meal is coming from a proper diet is necessary for a healthy life and enables increased levels of concentration and cognitive function. Nutrition is an essential tool for successful learning and evidence has proven that intellectual development is restricted when children don’t receive the required diet.

Making sure our nation’s children are properly fed doesn’t just require an essential emergency ‘sticking plaster’ it requires an understanding that every child’s proper nutrition is also a vital investment for the future. One long-term answer might be found in the proverb ‘If you give a person a fish you feed them for a day, if you teach them to fish, you feed them for life.’ There are many excellent individuals, charities and food support schemes already working to alleviate food poverty in our society but surely this government must also recognise their responsibility and that there are children in this country who require feeding now!

Teaching them ‘how to fish’ and investing more in education about proper nutrition and how best to achieve it on a budget is also a necessity if we are to protect and help families survive and prosper in the future. Yes, families may have a responsibility to help themselves when they can, but governments also have a responsibility to help them do it.

What is it our prime minister doesn’t understand about children and responsibility?


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