New research has today revealed that two children in every classroom are going hungry due to failures at home.
Child welfare charity Kids Company found that the number of children relying on charities to feed them has risen by 233% in the last 12 months, with half of UK teachers reporting they have had to feed their students in the morning.
According to Save the Children, there are 1.6 million children living in poverty in the UK, with 1 in 5 relying on food banks.
The Independent reports:
The problem is most severe in inner cities but children all around the UK are struggling to get enough to eat because of chaotic parenting and chronic neglect.
Three in five (62 per cent) parents know local families where children are going hungry because their parents cannot afford to buy all the food they need, while more than half (56 per cent) are aware of parents whose abuse of drugs or alcohol means they are not feeding their children.
Some believe the problem will worsen in coming months as the school holidays see an end to free school meals for some of the poorest children.
Through a discussion on BBC Radio 5 this morning, NetMums founder Siobhan Freegard said:
“In London alone, the Kids Company charity are seeing 17,000 kids turning up alone for free meals, they are self-referring.
“The price of food is increasing, it is difficult to budget and [the situation] is going to get worse when the benefit system changes.”
The recent figures will undoubtedly put more pressure on the government to act, especially considering they scrapped Labour’s plans to give free school meals to 500,000 children from low income families.
• Free school meals for all? 27 Oct 2009
As Cllr Richard Watts, cabinet member for children and young people in Islington, explained on these pages two years ago:
This scheme, by itself, would have lifted 50,000 children out of poverty. Some of the poorest families – many under the official poverty line – will now have to pay up to £600 more to give their children a decent lunch. This is the equivalent of an extra penny in income tax per child for them.
The Children’s Society’s Laura Rodrigues wrote on Left Foot Forward back in April:
The Children’s Society’s survey of parents in receipt of free school meals found that nearly eight out of ten are worried about the financial implications of losing free school meals if they move into work.
Unless the government changes course, this situation looks set to worsen when Universal Credit is rolled out. It is anticipated that the imminent public consultation will suggest an earnings threshold, where families will lose entitlement to free school meals once they start earning more than a modest sum.
This threshold could have negative consequences for thousands of families who would find themselves caught in a situation where they would be better off cutting their hours, or their pay, in order to bring them into entitlement to free school meals.
Left Foot Forward has reported recently on how the DfE have no intention of providing free breakfasts in schools, regardless of a continual emergence of shocking research. Considering the situation is set to get worse over the summer months, will the government finally step in?