Life – Terror. Ecstasy. Fight. Denial. Flight. Failure. PAIN. Forgiveness. Reconciliation. Hope. Love. Peace – Death
Children in the UK are hungry. Old news. You knew that already, right?
We have heard it all before, Child poverty, child hunger. No matter how many times I see this written down or said [not as often as it should be] by UK media I still have to remind myself that we are not living in Dickensian Times, we are not living in the Sudan or an other, so called, Third World nation. We are living in the 6th largest economy in the world, Great Britain and it is not the 1800’s it is approaching Christmas, Winter 2022.
The difference on this occasion was the quote above [and subsequent articles] in the Guardian, Observer, and other, [self-titled] respected UK press. It got me. Firmly in the bollocks, it hit me that hard, I cried. The absurdity, the injustice, the dam, ‘we don’t give two-fucks really, apathy’ of it, got to me more than ever before.
Children are so hungry that they are eating rubbers or hiding in the playground because they can’t afford lunch, according to reports from headteachers across England, this now 2022. Read that out loud, say it and say it again. WTF!
The out and out reality is we do not [will not] do anything about it and what is worse we could, should and can. But we don’t.
“Last winter, I already had a group of children who stood round the radiator outside my office every morning because they had no heating on at home and needed to warm up,” said Paul Gosling, head of Exeter Road community primary school in Exmouth. “We will have far more children turning up to school hungry.”
Jonny Uttley, CEO of the Education Alliance academy trust, which runs seven schools in Hull and East Riding, said: “This [food poverty] is the single biggest challenge schools will face. More and more children will turn up to school hungry. It will go well beyond the definition of free school meals now.”
It took a campaign by Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford to force Boris Johnson into a U-turn on extending free school meals to the lowest-income families during school holidays in November 2020. The reversal came after a storm of criticism from charities, the opposition and media from both sides of the political divide.
Richard Murphy, economic justice campaigner and professor of accounting at Sheffield University, said free school meals for all children in state schools was the only possible solution. “Within months we will be facing the worst economic crisis that anyone alive has witnessed,” he said. “The government must move rapidly and universally as the cost of not doing so is not just child poverty but child hunger, and that cannot be acceptable.”
The Welsh government has committed to rolling out free school meals for all primary school children by 2024, and ministers have said they will try to bring this forward. Ahead of the last Holyrood election, the SNP pledged to provide a free breakfast and lunch to all primary age children by August this year, although this has not yet been achieved.
Write to your MP. Better still refuse for your MP unless they agree to do something about this as a priority
The charity, which drives silver trucks into primary schools and feeds everyone “with no stigma” using surplus food, has had to take its phone number off its website because it was receiving daily calls from people in places including Newcastle, Liverpool and London, asking if they could help feed children in their area.
“I am getting so frustrated, telling people we can’t help them,” Johnson said. “There shouldn’t be a kid in England, Wales, Scotland or Ireland going hungry. It’s just wrong.”
Michelle Dornelly, founder of Children with Voices, a charity that is feeding families on three estates in Hackney, east London, said they are struggling to cope with “a different level of need”.
Thanks for Reading
Fears of widespread child hunger spark calls for universal free school meals in UK | UK cost of living crisis | The Guardian