Crisis as children go hungry

Crisis as children go hungry

10th June 2022

TLG is deeply disturbed to see new figures released by the government yesterday that the number of children eligible for free school meals has risen sharply to almost 1.9 million, an increase of almost a third since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is a clear indicator that children have been struggling and will continue to struggle in both their home and school lives while living in food-insecure households. With no end in sight for the current Cost of Living Crisis, urgent action needs to be taken to secure the futures of this generation of children.

On top of these latest figures, the Child Poverty Action Group has also indicated that another 800,000 children also living in poverty do not qualify for the meals.

Working on the frontline to support families facing food insecurity, TLG sees first-hand the struggles children face.

The daily worries of not knowing where your next meal will come from or if you have enough money to get through the week, faced by many prior to COVID-19, were then intensified by the crisis. Now the current Cost of Living situation will see even more families facing severe food insecurity as a result of their income being dramatically impacted by the global pandemic and food and fuel prices soaring!

With thousands of children and families in desperate need of additional support, it is critical the government takes decisive action and creates a safety net for all families suddenly thrown into poverty by the crisis.

While we are rightfully focused on food provision, food insecurity can have repercussions on more than just food. Across the UK, many families on a low income will make a daily choice between heating or eating, an impossible choice that is only worsened with winter approaching. Providing additional food and funding in this way for these families means they will not only be able to feed their children, but they can prioritise paying for fuel to heat their homes so children are kept warm during the long winter months.

Post-pandemic, children had been attempting to adapt to the ‘new normal’. But for those families who have been hardest hit by COVID-19 and those who were already struggling, the anxiety, hunger and unending struggle of surviving on a low income will go on unless something is urgently done about it. It is time for action.

Before the pandemic, three million children were at risk of hunger in the holidays (Feeding Britain, 2017). That number has since rocketed. Action must be taken if we are to prevent a hunger crisis gripping children across the UK.

The government must commit urgently to an extension of free school meals to all families receiving benefits and for progress towards universal provision.

The current Holidays, Activities and Food Programme (HAF), while a welcome provision, is not enough. It is not reaching even a fraction of the children in need of help. Free School Meal provision must be extended all year round.

It is simply not right to ignore a move that will help feed many hungry children across our country.

Transforming Lives for Good

TLG is a Christian children’s charity who is passionate about seeing struggling children find hope in the face of adversity. TLG offers a practical approach to build strong connections between local churches, families and schools.

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