Marcus Rashford, MBE, today calls on the public across the UK to write to their MPs via his #EndChildFood Poverty website. He is calling on Government to urgently support the recommendations and include the funds needed in the Spending Review expected in October. This follows his previous campaign when over 1.1 million people signed a petition on the parliamentary website.
As we know, Bude is not immune to food poverty.
Rashford has urged the government to end threats to social security payments and focus instead on practical measures to address what he called “the pandemic of child hunger” affecting the UK. New figures estimate that nearly 1 in 6 families with children experienced food insecurity in the last 6 months (skipping meals). Rashford asks:
“What is it going to take for these children to be prioritised? Instead of removing support through social security, we should be focusing efforts on developing a sustainable long-term roadmap out of this child hunger pandemic.”
The Food Foundation believes that current record highs in food insecurity can be reduced by ensuring families have the financial means (whether from employment or from benefit payments) to purchase sufficient food. Government schemes such as Free School Meals and Healthy Start also help to guarantee some basic nutrition protection for children when they are growing and learning. Currently, many children living in food insecure households are missing out on these schemes.
Many are eating badly in school because their families have too little money to buy school meals. The latest data shows that 17% of parents whose children are not eligible for free school meals and don’t regularly eat from the canteen say this is because school meals are unaffordable, meaning they could be skipping lunch or resorting to packed lunches. However less than 2% of packed lunches meet Government guidelines for a healthy and balanced school meal with high levels of foods high in fact, sugar and / or salt being seen in lunchboxes across the UK.
A newly published report today highlights the current system for free school meals is unfair and represents a postcode lottery: In England, only children from households earning less than £7400 (before benefits and after tax), qualify for Free School Meals (Year 3 and above)
The very low threshold in England means that half of children who are from food insecure households are excluded from free school meals because their families earn just above £7400. That’s approximately 350,000 children (FF calculations).
New research shows 80% of adults in England say they would support the expansion of Free School Meal eligibility to all children experiencing food poverty.