New research by Chefs in Schools reveals the shocking reality of schoolchildren going hungry across the country.
83% of primary school teachers report children coming to school hungry because families cannot afford enough food. 23% of teachers are seeing children having no lunch at all. These are the tragic findings of polling commissioned by our friends, Chefs in Schools.
Those working in schools describe children eating rubbers just to have something in their bellies. Some are stealing food and some hiding it in their pockets to eat at home.
The criteria families need to meet to be eligible for free school meals are far too stringent; they need to be receiving universal credit and not having household earnings above £7,400 before benefits. This harsh restriction means 800,000 children in poverty in England are not eligible for a free school meal.
“Some children don’t have enough food in their packed lunch box... they’ll stay away from the dining hall because they’re embarrassed.”
Luke Kemsley, Head Chef, Rushey Green Primary School
Of the hundreds of teachers responding to the survey, carried out by Survation, 73% said children bring packed lunches containing insufficient amounts of food. Nine out ten teachers said that hungry children they see are excessively tired and many teachers reported hungry children being easily distracted, disruptive and anxious.
In spite of their already-squeezed budgets, schools are having to step in and support families who are feeling the punishing effects of our economy. 46% of teachers said they were offering food parcels. This is not fair.
We believe that school food should be a consistent and non-partisan priority for government. We use our real-world experience of working in schools to strengthen our campaigns on children’s health, access to nutritious school meals and food education.