School Breakfast Bill

Date: 25.02.21 | in: Education

It saddens me that as one of the richest countries in the world child hunger is even an issue. No child should ever be left hunger nor should any family be in a position to not be able to adequately provide food for their children.

We certainly know that hungry children struggle to learn. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were over four million children growing up in poverty and I have long been concerned that children will go hungry during it. Child poverty is a pandemic of its own.

The Government currently funds school breakfasts in disadvantaged areas, which is implemented by Magic Breakfast and Family Action. I understand that the programme is due to end later this year and that the Government has stated that it is considering how to encourage and support schools so that children continue to benefit from school breakfasts once funding comes to an end.

In July 2020, the National Food Strategy published a report which argues that the effects of hunger on young bodies and minds are serious and long-lasting and exacerbate social inequalities. I am aware of the report by Pro Bono Economics highlighting the educational and economic benefits of school breakfasts. Magic Breakfast says that children who start the day with full stomachs are more settled, better behaved and more able to concentrate on lessons.

The next stage for the School Breakfast Bill, which aims to ensure that a free and healthy breakfast is given to pupils of schools serving areas with high levels of deprivation, has been postponed due to the suspension of Friday sittings in the House of Commons. In addition, as a Private Members’ Bill, it is unlikely to make further progress without the support of the Government.

It is my belief the Government must do the right thing to guarantee no child goes hungry and also guarantee the provision of free school meals across all school holidays in 2021.

We must ensure that children are a national priority and that no child ever goes hungry!

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