The government has voted down a notion that was proposed from the Labour Government. The statement follows:
“That this House calls on the Government to continue directly funding provision of free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021 to prevent over a million children going hungry during this crisis.”
321 MPs voted against this notion, despite it clearly having detrimental effects on over a million children. These children are already facing many problems due to the pandemic, such as disruptions from learning, sick parents, and finical changes due to an increase of redundancies. And now, they are at a risk of becoming sick or malnourished as direct result from this change in policy.
There are many benefits for free school meals. For example, they help families in low income brackets to feed their children in situations where funds are not sufficient, or food banks are not readily available. It also ensures that children are eating whilst at school, which boosts their brain power and causes an increase in academic productivity. In addition to this, free school meals can tackle food related health problems, as the foods often have nutritious value.
“Why don’t the parents just cook? Vegetables and fruits are cheap!”
There is an amazingly simple answer to this question that has been flying across Facebook. These parents may be working full-time to pay for their children, thus, there being no time to whip up a three-course healthy meal for under £2. After a twelve-hour long shift, there is still housework to do, bills to organise, kids to pick up from school and so much more. These sort of questions on the matter come from a place of embedded privilege. If you have never experienced being in this situation, it is your moral responsibility to be empathic rather than judgemental – even if you were sat in this position years ago, things are different now still. Being unable to feed a child is an emergency.
I could go into detail about the debate that took place in the Commons. However, the truth of the matter is that this bill is going to leave millions of children hungry, and it just shows that the Conservative party are out of touch and still live in a mindset of their privilege. You remember the U-turn during lockdown: the one which footballer Marcus Rushford campaigned for the scheme to carry on for free-school meal vouchers. This is the same scheme. And, as Marcus Rushford put it before, “no child should go to bed hungry.” Despite the backlash, these schemes are coming to an end.
If your MP is one of those who voted against this bill, please contact them. Anything you can do can help inspire a change. It starts with all the people.
Photo courtesy of helloimnik