Letter: Is holiday hunger levelling up?

Peter Shreeve from the NEU says their expectations on government appear to be set far too high. “After all, if you could relatively easily ensure that pupils didn’t go to bed hungry, why wouldn’t you?”

child eating from a metal spoon

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This from Peter Shreeve, Assistant District Secretary, Isle of Wight – National Education Union. Ed

The End Child Poverty data shows the shocking reality of child poverty and the inability of government to fully tackle the causes – holiday hunger, the digital divide and expensive school uniforms, even before the further impacts of Covid and recession. Thus, we fail to understand those MPs recently voting for the status quo of child hunger. 

As pupils return to schools and many look forward to a free school meal, let’s reflect on events, which may cause incredulity and cast absolutely NO understanding of why so many MPs voted against school holiday food vouchers.

Eat out to help out Vs free school holiday meals
First, ‘Eat out to help out’ and free school holiday meals.

Those who could afford to ‘eat out to help out’ received extra government cash, i.e. spending £90 on 9 meals and government would provide an additional ‘free’ £90 of food. Yet, children relying on the free school meals programme, received £90 to cover the entire six-week summer holiday.

Surely a huge disconnect in understanding?

Political disconnect
Bob Seely, MP said,

“There is already substantial additional support for Islanders … to ensure children and their families do not go hungry.”

There is a second disconnect between the reality experienced by Government and our MP, who will not go hungry at Christmas or next year, when MPs salary will rise by 4.1% – an additional £3,360 on top of their £81,932 salary.

Charities picking up the pieces
In the meantime, it is left to charity regulars like the Trussell Trust, PanTogether and now Socialising Buddies to ask for donations to stave off child hunger rather than Government providing funding.

Mind numbing, when reflecting on some of the huge recently wasted sums, which could have been better spent:

  • £150 million on unusable and unsuitable PPE masks,
  • £10 billion on a track a trace system which didn’t work and
  • £16 million on defective COVID-19 tests.

No response from PM or MP
In the light of the latest child poverty data and prior to the vote last month, as the NEU General Secretaries wrote to the PM, we wrote to our local MP, in the expectation that the Government was serious about ‘levelling up’ and willing to take urgent action.

We are still awaiting an answer. Our expectations on government appear to be set far too high. After all, if you could relatively easily ensure that pupils didn’t go to bed hungry, why wouldn’t you?

Image: insightsunspoken under CC BY 2.0

Tuesday, 3rd November, 2020 9:52am


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Filed under: Education, Island-wide, Letter to the Editor, Youth

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2 Comments on "Letter: Is holiday hunger levelling up?"

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And how much of our hard-earned taxes did they hand out to rich hunting toffs up and down the country at 10k each hunt when they could have been feeding hungry children? This epitomises their attitudes and priorities. Well done to the councils that refused to pay out.


If they are hungry its not due to lack of benefits or social support. It is like blaming a road for a car crash that is well and safely traveled by thousands of other people in the same or similar value cars, in the same or similar circumstances. Driver error, parent error you don’t like it but it is true.