Chefs in Schools is campaigning alongside many other charities and organisations to end child food poverty. Together, we’re urging the Government to adopt the recommendations of the National Food Strategy. As we launch Tinned Pears – a short film looking at the issue – our Chief Executive, Naomi Duncan, gives her views on why this issue demands urgent attention. 

No child should go hungry or have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, but in Britain far too many are. The impacts of the coronavirus pandemic have shone a spotlight on the issue, but also presented Government with a vast array of competing financial priorities. We believe that child food poverty should be a top priority, with huge public support behind action to address this. Hundreds of thousands have signed a petition by footballer Marcus Rashford MBE urging the Government to take urgent action to put this right. Sticking plasters of temporary extensions to free school meals, or emergency food parcels provided by charities, are welcome, but don’t provide long-term sustainable solutions.

Like Marcus, our charity is calling for the three key reforms outlined in the National Food Strategy to be implemented:

  • Expanding free school meals to all families in receipt of Universal Credit (or equivalent)

  • Providing meals and activities during school holidays to all children entitled to free school meals

  • Expanding the Healthy Start voucher scheme and increasing its value.

Implementing those changes will minimise child food insecurity, address inequalities, reduce childhood malnutrition and obesity and improve children’s academic performance.

The pandemic has exacerbated the issue of food poverty – but children were going hungry long before the pandemic and they will go hungry afterwards if we don’t see lasting reform.  That isn’t good enough. Hunger and malnutrition have long-term impacts on the health and life outcomes of children. Investing to ensure children don’t go hungry is not only the right thing to do morally, it is also an investment in our collective future.

During the initial phases of the pandemic, we distributed over 320,000 meals to families who were at risk of going hungry. Hearing directly from them about the realities of food poverty – the shame, the stress, the reluctance to admit they needed help – brought home to us the scale of the need for reform. Relying on charities to plug the food poverty gap is neither sustainable nor dignified – the time for action is now.

Tinned Pears, a film made by some of our incredible volunteers, reflects those stories and gives an insight into food poverty. We hope it will inspire people to join the #EndChildFoodPoverty campaign. Together we can urge the Government to implement changes that will make a difference. 

Find out how to get involved.