Commenting on holiday hunger on learning and general pupil well-being, Peter Shreeve, Assistant District Secretary of the National Education Union said,
“The National Education Union is asking people to support and sign an open letter to the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, calling upon him to eradicate holiday hunger by providing Free School Meals (FSM) to all children who need them over the school holidays.
“Hunger affects our behaviour, how we learn or pay attention in school. Hunger decreases our ability to concentrate and it affects how well our brain works and develops particularly at a younger age too.
“It is therefore with some incredulity that last week MPs (including our own), whilst promising to ‘level up’, voted down extending free school meals over holidays. Mindboggling considering End Child Poverty data shows the shocking reality of child poverty (one third of all children on the Island) and government inability to tackle the causes – holiday hunger, the digital divide and expensive school uniforms, even before the extra impacts of Covid-19 and recession.
“Government must reverse the decision taken in the House of Commons last week not to provide free school meals over the holidays. We fail to understand those voting for the status quo of child hunger. A callous decision, which has generated much argument for a U-turn.
“Free school meals are being spoken of as if they are a luxury. Food is not a luxury and should not be in modern day Britain. It is the most basic expectation. Children should never be hungry, whether at school or at home in the holiday. Government must ensure no child goes without food, which is why we are asking you to support this open letter to ensure that every child returns to school ready to learn.
“No child should come back to school hungry, malnourished or anxious after any holiday.”
Anyone wishing to sign the Open Letter can do so on the NEU Website.