The Kids Meals Map www.kidsmealsmap.co.uk has been launched today to support families and children over the October half-term.
As parliament voted this week not to extend the Free School Meals scheme over the school holidays, there has been an unprecedented response, from businesses, some councils and the wider public, to the call to action of Marcus Rashford’s campaign to prevent vulnerable children from going hungry.
The Kids Meals Map is a new national resource, designed to show the businesses, community organisations and councils who have announced over the past 24 hours that they will be providing free meals to vulnerable children over the October half-term. Food supply organisations are being asked to visit the website today to register details of what they are offering so that vulnerable children and families can find out what is available in their local area.
Data from The Food Foundation charity revealed that 1.4 million children (18% of 8-17 year-olds) reported experiences of food insecurity over the summer holidays.
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%)
Whatever your political views, it seems unbelievable that MPs would choose to let vulnerable children go hungry over the school holidays.
Some MPs believe that it is right to punish children because of their parents’ choices and circumstances, others argue that as kids have been going hungry for years there is surely no reason to change that, others simply decided to make a political point. Others, like my own MP Elliot Colburn, did not even bother to vote.
I simply cannot comprehend why parliament would choose not to subsidise free school meals during the school holidays. For many vulnerable children, a school meal is the only proper food they will eat all day. Besides the absolute need to end child poverty and child hunger, the policy is a win-win on so many levels with well-nourished kids benefiting society as a whole.
There is a bitter irony in all this. Despite earning a decent salary, MPs themselves get subsidised parliamentary food and drinks and are entitled to up to £25 a night for food expenses.
A Parliamentary Petition launched by Marcus Rashford to end child food poverty has already reached over 700,000 signatures. Here is the link should you wish to add your voice.