Nursing Organisations Join Calls to Extend Free School Meals
26 October 2020
The Queen’s Nursing Institute has joined with other nursing organisations to add their voice to the campaign to extend free school meals to children from low income families during holidays.
The full text of the letter is below:
The Right Hon Boris Johnson MP
The Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
Dear Prime Minister,
On behalf of the UK’s Registered Nurses and Health Visitors who are on the front line of protecting and caring for families and children, we are writing to urge the government to change course in its decision not to provide free school meals to children during the school holidays.
This issue transcends political allegiances and we would ask that across all political parties our Parliamentary representatives work together to provide an immediate response to the fact that children are going hungry and then work together to tackle child poverty.
In 2018-19 40% of children lived in poverty in the United Kingdom, many of them in working households (Department for Work and Pensions, 2020). The impact of Covid-19 has exacerbated the problem and now 1.9 million families rely on foodbanks (Trussell Trust, 2019) to make ends meet. Each and everyday Nursing staff, Midwives and Health Visitors see families having to make heart-breaking choices between heating their homes and feeding their families. This cannot be right in the sixth largest economy in the world and must be addressed.
The effects of poor nutrition are well documented, and the impact is both immediate and long-term with long-term effects on educational attainment and health.
While we have been heartened to see the local communities in England rallying to support those in need, this is not a sustainable solution to the problem. Many of the businesses providing support are themselves struggling because of local lockdown measures. We pay tribute to the businesses, community groups, local authorities and Marcus Rashford MBE for their efforts to address the issues but we firmly believe that the government must act to address child hunger and poverty.
We look forward to your response.
Dr Crystal Oldman CBE, Chief Executive, The Queen’s Nursing Institute
Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director, The Institute of Health Visitors
Obi Amadi, Lead professional officer for health visiting, Unite/Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association (CPHVA)
Dame Donna Kinnair, The Royal College of Nursing
Sharon White OBE, Chief Executive, School and Public Health Nurses Association
The Welsh Government has already decided to support free school meals during every school holiday until Easter 2021, in a statement on 15th October.