Yesterday, I spoke alongside Kim Johnson MP, the National Education Union, Food Foundation and Child Poverty Action Group and others at the #NoChildLeftBehind event in Parliament to reiterate the need for rapid expansion of free school meals and school breakfast provisions.
It’s simply not right that we have three million children at risk of arrive at school too hungry to learn. No matter how smart a child is, no matter how amazing their teacher is, if you’re hungry and worrying about when you’re next going to eat, you’re not able to learn.
I explained that as children struggle to catch up on lost learning and the cost-of-living crisis takes hold, its vital the government implements meaningful funding for breakfast food.
I spoke about my School Breakfast Bill presented to Parliament back in 2020 that would have reached 1.9 million hungry children. Over 30,000 people signed a petition in support of the Bill, and over 70 Members across the House backed it, including the Chair of the Education Committee Robert Halfon. Unfortunately, due to covid disruption time ran out for the Bill but it’s not something I’ll give up on.
Last year, the Government announced its National School Breakfast Programme, but it simply falls short of my proposed school breakfast provisions. All children at risk of hunger would benefit from permanent, extensive, and secure breakfast funding.
Events like this are so important to keep the issue at the forefront of the national conversation and I thank all involved in organising it.
It is vital that we keep the pressure on the Government to ensure that children from disadvantaged backgrounds benefit fully from the education system and have the chance to reach their full potential. We can achieve this through both school breakfasts and expanding free school meals.