By Paul Gerrard, Director of Campaigns and Public Affairs – Co-op Group
Latest figures from the Food Foundation suggest that 2.5 million children in the UK have experienced food insecurity over the last six months. ‘Food insecurity’ is an academic term that hides the brutal reality that millions of children will have today skipped meals or eaten less than they needed – they’ve gone hungry.
As Director of Campaigns and Public Affairs, you’ll often hear me talk about how talent is spread throughout our country but opportunities aren’t. I want to see every young person have the opportunity to prosper and succeed in life, but that cannot happen when children are hungry. Imagine arriving at school too hungry to learn, going to bed too hungry to sleep and long holidays without access to a nutritious meal. That’s why I support the #endchildfoodpoverty campaign led by Marcus Rashford and the Food Foundation. It’s why I have written to my MP.
For many children who currently receive free school meals, lunch at school is their main meal of the day. Many other children from low-income households do not currently qualify for free school meals, and risk going hungry. For pre-school age children, Healthy Start vouchers can make a difference by getting extra money to their families to buy nutritious food. The Holiday Activities and Food Programme can support children during the school holidays. All these measures are already in place but it’s clear that more needs to be done so we have three simple asks of Government:
- Extend free school meals to children in every household that receives Universal Credit
- Increase the number of families eligible for Healthy Start vouchers
- Provide long term funding for the Holiday Activities and Food Programme
How Can You Help?
On Wednesday 27 October, the Government will announce spending plans for the next five years. These three measures would make a huge difference to the lives of millions of children, ending their hunger and enabling them to progress.
Tackling inequality is at the heart of our Co-op’s vision of Co-operating for a fairer world. And making sure that our communities have fair access to food is vital to our mission. This is part of our ongoing work with Marcus Rashford and the #EndChildFoodPoverty campaign and, with your support, we can help to make the call even louder. It’s easy to take part and it only takes a moment, so join in to lend your voice and write to your MP – just follow this link.