England International Footballer, Marcus Rashford MBE

#Right2Food - The England International Footballer, @MarcusRashford MBE’s Parliamentary Petition on Government website hits 280,000 signatures in 48 hours. 

Link to petition is here

Food Foundation releases data showing that 1.4 million children (18%) reported experiences of food insecurity over the summer holidays

In support of the #endchildfoodpoverty campaign over 30 influential education leaders have written a letter to Ministers to urge Government to act on the policy asks in Part 1 of the National Food Strategy.

General Secretaries of the leading headteachers unions, Governance Association and 17 leaders of the largest multi academy trusts (representing 400 schools) have all joined forces to urge the Government to respond.    

The letter has been sent to Rishi Sunak, The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education and Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

The Education leaders are asking for Government to support vulnerable children by implementing vital recommendations from the Government commissioned National Food Strategy:

These are:

  1. Expansion of free school meals to every child from a household on Universal Credit or equivalent, reaching an additional 1.5million 7-16 year olds
  2. Expansion of holiday provision (food and activities) to support all children on free school meals, reaching an additional 1.1million children

The National Food Strategy was written by Henry Dimbleby.

The letter is part of the growing momentum behind the #endchildfoodpoverty campaign which is already supported by the Child Food Poverty Task Force formed by Marcus Rashford MBE, and a further 20 charities and key names in the food industry.  They are calling on Government to allocate sufficient budget to three National Food Strategy recommendations, as part of an urgent recovery package for vulnerable children this Autumn. A petition launched on the Government Parliamentary Petition website reached 100,000 signatures within hours and today over 280,000 have signed ensuring the issue will be put forward for consideration for a debate.    

Last week the Food Foundation revealed an extremely high demand for Free School Meals. The data, acquired through a sample survey conducted by Childwise, showed that 29% (2.2 million) children aged 8-17 reported being registered for Free School Meals, with an astounding 42% of these children (900,000)  newly registered to the scheme this Autumn (1).

Data released by the Food Foundation also 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:

  1. Having to eat less and make food last longer because of lack of money to buy more (6%)
  2. Parents not eating because there wasn’t enough food at home (5%)
  3. Children being hungry but not eating to avoid using up food at home (4%)
  4. Children being hungry but not eating because of lack of food at home (4%)
  5. Not eating a proper meal due to lack of money for food (4%)
  6. 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.

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.     

Dr Jenny Blunden OBE, Chief Executive of Truro and Penwith Academy Trust said: 

“Here in Cornwall, we know that many of our families are experiencing very real economic problems due to reduced incomes.  Some of our schools are seeing significant increases in the proportion of children eligible for Free School Meals (FSM), in one school this has been from 14.9% in March to 24.1% on return to school this September.  We know how important it is to ensure our catering services are providing healthy meals to children and we wish to highlight the food poverty which will continue during the holiday periods and to extend this concern to our many more families living in poverty but who are not currently eligible for FSM.”

Steve Taylor,  CEO Cabot Learning Federation said  

“Learning takes energy and requires a child to be physically and mentally prepared: a hungry child is neither. At a time when more families are experiencing new hardships, children are relying on us to advocate for them. A quality daily lunch now will reap significant benefits later.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders said:

"Schools are working incredibly hard to help children catch-up with lost learning amidst ongoing disruption caused by rising Covid infection rates, and the pupils who need the greatest degree of support are often those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

"To then have a situation where they are potentially going hungry through holiday periods is very obviously detrimental to both their welfare and educational progress.”

Anna Taylor, Executive Director of Food Foundation said:

 “We are now seeing a huge increase in the number of families struggling with loss of income due to the pandemic and many children are experiencing food insecurity.      It is vital that the Government expands the entitlement of a Free School Meal to every family on Universal credit if we are going to protect the most vulnerable from going hungry.”

Saffron, 15 years old, Portsmouth said:

 “After the U-Turn this summer, it felt like the Government finally understood that children can’t be left to go hungry during the holidays. But now we’re back in the same position of having to ask for help. Covid-19 isn’t going away, and even more families are struggling. Children need support during the holidays now more than ever.”

Tyler, 15 years old, Blackburn said: “My friends who have free school meals during term time already face being bullied about it, but at least they get the meal they need. This can really divide kids and make those that go without feel excluded.

Felix, 15 years old, Norfolk said: “I come from a family of 9. For a really big family like mine, the holidays mean much more pressure on our parents – with me and my siblings at home there needs to be more meals, extra childcare, higher bills. For families fallen on hard times and for parents have lost their jobs because of Covid, the pressure to provide during the holidays must be overwhelming.”


England International Footballer launched Parliamentary Petition to #EndChildFoodPoverty on 15th Oct 

#EndChildFoodPoverty - England International Footballer, Marcus Rashford MBE, has 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, written by Henry Dimbleby: 

These are:

  1. Expansion of free school meals to every child from a household on Universal Credit or equivalent, reaching an additional 1.5 million 7-16 year olds
  2. Expansion of holiday provision (food and activities) to support all children on free school meals, reaching an additional 1.1 million children
  3. 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 #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.   

Experiences of food insecurity included:

  1. Having to eat less and make food last longer because of lack of money to buy more (6%)
  2. Parents not eating because there wasn’t enough food at home (5%)
  3. Children being hungry but not eating to avoid using up food at home (4%)
  4. Children being hungry but not eating because of lack of food at home (4%)
  5. Not eating a proper meal due to lack of money for food (4%)
  6. Eating at a friend’s house because there wasn’t enough food at home (3%).

490,000 (6.3%) of children said they were worried about going hungry during the October half term.

Rising numbers of families are struggling with 850,000 children aged 8-17 (11%) 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.

The Food Foundation’s recent You Gov survey 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. 

Sector Response

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."

Kirsty WIlliams May2020 100x100Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams, said:

“We have worked tirelessly this year to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and the countless challenges it has presented but we have not, and will not, forget those for who school is about far more than education.

“I am pleased to confirm that we have today made £11m available to provide free school meal provisions over every school holiday up to and including Easter 2021.

“I really hope this provides some reassurance in these times of uncertainty.”

Apsana Begum, MP for Poplar and Limehouse, said:

“The soaring levels of child poverty in Poplar and Limehouse is further evidence of the Tories’ chilling disregard for our communities’ suffering.

“And this is even before considering the further impacts of Covid and recession.

“Every day constituents are contacting me in crisis as they are being let down by patchy pandemic support measures whilst the Government continues to put big business above the welfare of people during the greatest health crisis of our generation.

“The cutting back and privatisation of services has meant that far too many are unable to access enough food even - with meals being skipped and children not getting enough to eat as already vulnerable families battle isolation and a loss of income.

“This is despite people continuing to work hard  – whether it is from home in cramped conditions with limited equipment balancing paid work with caring responsibilities or forced to work in unsafe conditions without the protections needed or supporting others around them unpaid.

“We need a Government that is willing to do whatever it takes to protect people from the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis and lift our children out of poverty – including the expansion of universal basic services, such as free schools meals, and the introduction of a minimum income guarantee at a level that people can live on.”

Emma Thompson, Ambassador Children’s Right2Food Campaign said:

“In the sixth richest economy in the world these figures speak for themselves.   There is absolutely no need for any child to go hungry in the UK. The fact that they are and in increasing numbers suggests cracks in a broken food system that can and must be repaired as a matter of the utmost urgency. Apart from the moral duty we owe to children, this is a severe public health problem.”

Anna Taylor, Executive Director of Food Foundation said:

“School holidays are a financial pressure point which many families just can’t afford at the moment.  Hunger does not take a holiday.  The government needs to put in place a permanent solution to school holiday hunger and implement the recommendations in the National Food Strategy. While children have been spared the virus, they have not been spared it’s economic impacts and we must act to protect them.”

Jo Whitfield, CEO, Co-op Food, said: 

“Child hunger is heart breaking and a growing problem in the UK as the number of children claiming free school meals is increasing. Co-op was founded on the principle of fairness and we joined the taskforce to help campaign for greater help for those who need it most in our communities. We can now all play a part by signing this important petition.”

Jojo de Noronha, Kraft Heinz Northern Europe President, said:

 “Here at Heinz we are committed to tackling child food poverty through our work with Marcus, the Task Force, and our campaign to ‘Silence the Rumble’ with Magic Breakfast. It’s pretty shocking that in one of the richest economies in the world, this is a battle we still have to fight. It’s vital that this issue is at the forefront of the political agenda during this very troubled time and we urge the Government to act now, so that no child has to go hungry. Join us in signing the petition and let’s show the Government that we want to #endchildfoodpoverty NOW.”

Bruce Adamson, Children’s Commissioner for Scotland said:

“Poverty and food insecurity was the biggest human rights issue facing children in the UK before the COVID-19 pandemic and we know that the pandemic continues to disproportionately affect children already most at risk.

"The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child warned of the grave physical, emotional and psychological effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and called on governments to activate immediate measures to ensure that all children have regular, permanent and unrestricted access to nutritious food.

"Despite the significant efforts of schools, charities and communities, all across the UK, governments are still failing to provide all children with access to food – one of the most basic of human rights.” 

Andrew Forsey, National Director, Feeding Britain: 

“Holiday clubs providing nutritious meals, enriching activities, and childcare this year proved themselves to be flexible, adaptable, and robust enough to deliver high-quality services for children and their families. But their coverage remains patchy and there are still too many children from families on low incomes at risk of falling through the cracks and being exposed to hunger. A multi-year funding settlement, as set out in the National Food Strategy, is required so that clubs can offer this provision across the whole of England”

Saffron, 15 years old, Portsmouth said:

“After the U-Turn this summer, it felt like the Government finally understood that children can’t be left to go hungry during the holidays. But now we’re back in the same position of having to ask for help. Covid-19 isn’t going away, and even more families are struggling. Children need support during the holidays now more than ever.”

Tyler, 15 years old, Blackburn said: 

“My friends who have free school meals during term time already face being bullied about it, but at least they get the meal they need. But during the holidays, when we hang out together, they are clearly ashamed that they don’t have enough money to buy basics, like a drink or a bite to eat. This can really divide kids and make those that go without feel excluded. The holidays, which we are meant to look forward to, are instead just really stressful.”

Felix, 15 years old, Norfolk said:

“I come from a family of 9. For a really big family like mine, the holidays mean much more pressure on our parents – with me and my siblings at home there needs to be more meals, extra childcare, higher bills. For families fallen on hard times and for parents have lost their jobs because of Covid, the pressure to provide during the holidays must be overwhelming.”

Spokesperson for Deliveroo said:

“These are important recommendations on tackling child hunger from experts. This is an issue that affects far too many families and we hope these recommendations will be considered and implemented by Government.”

Methodology: 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+. The method used for deriving population figures is described here

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