England International Footballer, Marcus Rashford MBE, has today launched a petition on the Parliamentary Petition website asking for Government to support vulnerable children by implementing 3 vital recommendations from the Government commissioned National Food Strategy:
- Expansion of free school meals to every child from a household on Universal Credit or equivalent, reaching an additional 5million 7-16 year olds
- Expansion of holiday provision (food and activities) to support all children on free school meals, reaching an additional 1million children
- Increasing the value of the Healthy Start vouchers to £4.25 per week (from £3.10) and expanding into all those on Universal Credit or equivalent, reaching an additional 290,000 pregnant women and children under the age of 4
The National Food Strategy was written by Henry Dimbleby.
The #endchildfoodpoverty campaign is supported by the Child Food Poverty Task Force which was formed by Marcus Rashford, a further 20 charities and key names in the food industry. They are calling on Government to allocate sufficient budget to the three National Food Strategy recommendations, as part of an urgent recovery package for vulnerable children this Autumn.
Data released by the Food Foundation today reveals 18% of 8-17 year olds (1.4 million children) reported experiences of food insecurity over the summer holidays (1). Experiences of food insecurity included:
- Having to eat less and make food last longer because of lack of money to buy more (6%)
- Parents not eating because there wasn’t enough food at home (5%)
- Children being hungry but not eating to avoid using up food at home (4%)
- Children being hungry but not eating because of lack of food at home (4%)
- Not eating a proper meal due to lack of money for food (4%)
- Eating at a friend’s house because there wasn’t enough food at home (3%).
6.3% of children said they were worried about going hungry during the October half term.
Rising numbers of families are struggling with an 11% (850,000) of children aged 8-17 reporting that either they or their families had visited a foodbank in the summer holidays. This was over 60% higher in non–white British ethnic groups (1).
The Food Foundation’s recent You Gov survey (2) showed that 31% of parents of children on Free School meals across the UK said they received no form of help over the summer holidays. For those that did get help, most (75%) received vouchers. 10% of all parents said that changes in the household budget affected their ability to purchase food over the summer holidays.
The Food Foundation is also launching the Children’s Right 2 Food Dashboard which is a one-stop-shop for data and research on what children across the UK are eating and the effects on their wellbeing and long-term health. http://www.childrensright2food.co.uk/.
Marcus Rashford, England International Footballer said “For too long this conversation has been delayed. Child food poverty in the UK is not a result of COVID-19. We must act with urgency to stabilise the households of our vulnerable children. In 2020, no child in the UK should be going to bed hungry, nor should they be sat in classrooms concerned about how their younger siblings are going to eat that day, or how they are going to access food come the holidays. The school holidays used to be a highlight of the year for children. Today, it is met with anxiety from those as young as 7-years old. Many have said that education is the most effective means of combating poverty. I do not disagree with this statement, but education is only effective when children can engage in learning. Right now, a generation who have already been penalised during this pandemic with lack of access to educational resources are now back in school struggling to concentrate due to worry and the sound of their rumbling stomachs. Whatever your feeling, opinion, or judgement, food poverty is never the child's fault. Let's protect our young. Let's wrap arms around each other and stand together to say that this is unacceptable, that we are united in protecting our children. Today, millions of children are finding themselves in the most vulnerable of environments and are beginning to question what it really means to be British. I'm calling on you all today to help me prove to them that being British is something to be proud of."
- Childwise data was obtained from a survey of 1,064 children aged 7-17 years carried out in the United Kingdom conducted between 8th -20th September. The survey was carried out online and is nationally representative.
- Data referring to parents are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,309 parents or guardians living with children under 18 years. Fieldwork, unless otherwise stated, was undertaken between 24th August and 1st September 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults aged 18+.