St Andrews Students' Association
The failure of the UK government in feeding hungry children - by Lucinda Sales

The failure of the UK government in feeding hungry children - by Lucinda Sales

In lieu of free school meals, parents have been sent food parcels for their children as a result of nationwide school closures. These parcels were said to be worth £30 and are meant to last for 10 days, but parents have taken to Twitter to express their frustrations at the woeful packages they have received. The amount of food and its quality are clearly lacking, which raises the issue of how much the government cares about keeping less-wealthy children fed and healthy.

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Photo credit: ROADSIDE MUM / BBC News

 

(Photo credit: Photo credit: ROADSIDE MUM / BBC News)

The failure of the UK government in feeding hungry children

In lieu of free school meals, parents have been sent food parcels for their children as a result of nationwide school closures. These parcels were said to be worth £30 and are meant to last for 10 days, but parents have taken to Twitter to express their frustrations at the woeful packages they have received. The amount of food and its quality are clearly lacking, which raises the issue of how much the government cares about keeping less-wealthy children fed and healthy. Matt Hancock, the Secretary of Health and a member of the Conservative Party, voted against free meals for schoolkids and was recently on Good Morning Britain. In the interview, Hancock failed to provide a definitive course of action regarding the improvement of these food parcels and rather ineptly dodged questions concerning his view of the free meals. These food packages are supplied by Chartwells UK and are funded by taxpayer money. Upset parents on Twitter claimed the food they received was about 1/6 of its supposed value.
            On the other hand, UNICEF UK has mobilized to feed food insecure children and families in Southwark, South London. Unicef pledged a £25,000 grant, in addition to £4,500 worth of fruit and veg supplied by firm Abel & Cole. Angela Rayner, the Labour Party’s deputy leader, shamed the Conservative government, saying “We are one of the richest countries in the world. Our children should not have to rely on humanitarian charities that are used to operating in war zones and in response to natural disasters.” In fact, this move by Unicef was unprecedented; a domestic initiative such as this has never happened in its 70-year history. 
            Along with pressure from other political parties, Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford has spoken out against the government’s failure to adequately distribute food to children in need across the UK. Rashford started a high-profile campaign for free meals during the school holidays, which had success in his hometown of Manchester. Now, Rashford is joined with several celebrity chefs calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to develop a more comprehensive strategy to end child hunger before the summer holidays. The involvement of humanitarian charities and celebrities to attempt and feed vulnerable children is indicative of the Conservative government’s values and priorities. This reliance on external support and pressure to mobilize the government to provide basic necessities for minors is abhorrent and can hopefully be reformed. 

References:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/matt-hancock-free-school-meals-students-good-morning-britain-b1786573.html

https://metro.co.uk/2021/01/12/free-school-meals-firm-offers-very-different-food-at-private-schools-13888053/

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-54717525

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/dec/16/unicef-feed-hungry-children-uk-first-time-history

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-55670096

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