Thank you to all those who contacted me about child food poverty.
Data from the Food Foundation showed that 26% of households with children experienced food insecurity in September 2022 alone. This is not right. Child poverty wastes potential and harms our country’s success and prosperity. More importantly, it hurts children, not just in the future, but as they grow up. It harms their health and holds back their learning. It damages their sense of self-esteem and wellbeing. This Government must rededicate itself to tackling the scourge of child poverty.
The National Food Strategy plan recommended that eligibility for free school meals be extended. However, the Government Food Strategy, published in June 2022, did not extend the provision of free school meals and instead stated that eligibility will be kept “under review”.
The Government’s strategy could have been an opportunity to ensure that every family has access to healthy, affordable and sustainable food. However, there were no concrete proposals in it to tackle the major issues facing this country. With prices soaring in the shops and on energy bills, I am worried this shows a lack of vision or a plan for Britain. Our children deserve better.
I believe that we need a modern childcare system. One that supports families from the end of parental leave through to the end of primary school. The first step on that road would be introducing breakfast clubs for every primary school child in England to give every child a healthy meal to start their day, more time to play with their friends and extra time for teachers to provide targeted catch-up support, ensuring every child is supported to reach their potential.
We must also ensure that families eligible for free school meals are supported, empowering parents to choose the food and supplies needed to help them battle rising prices.