I am concerned over the increase of child hunger during the pandemic.
In July 2020, the National Food Strategy published a report which states that one of the miserable legacies of COVID-19 is likely to be a dramatic increase in unemployment and poverty, and therefore hunger. It argues that the effects of hunger on young bodies and minds are serious and long-lasting and exacerbate social inequalities.
Hungry children struggle to learn, which means that it is vital that we ensure that all our children can have access to enough to eat so that they can live and learn without the pain of hunger.
Investing in healthy, free school breakfasts is a proven way to improve educational outcomes, child health, and save money for families. The Government currently funds school breakfasts through the National School Breakfast Programme, but this is due to end in March 2021.
I believe the Government should look at expanding the provision of free, healthy breakfasts, not ending it. It must also tackle child poverty while driving up standards in schools by providing extra support to the children who need it most.
Therefore, I have written to the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, and asked him to support the School Breakfast Bill, which aims to ensure that a free and healthy breakfast is given to pupils of schools serving areas with high levels of deprivation.
Regardless of their background, children should be given the best opportunity to live and learn, and the National School Breakfast Programme is one way of making this happen.