This week we’re focusing all our efforts on tackling the crisis of child hunger in England. We partnered with Survation to hear from teachers on the front line of the crisis in schools about what’s really going on. 

As part of the campaign we spoke to Headteacher at Rushey Green Primary School in Catford, Lisa Williams:

“There’s a saying – you can’t teach them if you can’t reach them: School food should be treated as an educational resource. Children need to eat otherwise they can’t learn.”

We spoke to Lisa about the effects of the rising cost of living on the kids at her school: “I’ve never known anything like this during my career, it is getting worse. Children are coming to school hungry and we’re caught between a rock and a hard place. If they’re hungry, they can’t concentrate so our resources are worthless, but if the budget goes on school food, the resources suffer.”

The situation with regards to food is that “with pack lunches, some children have bread with no filling or just a slice of bread. We see cheap snacks that are low on nutrition. As we get towards the end of the week or month and the money runs out at home, it often gets worse. It’s heartbreaking. Parents are struggling. This isn’t about not wanting to feed their children, it’s about not being able to afford nutritious choices.”

“We have a responsibility to safeguard children – we can’t and wouldn’t let them go hungry.” 

It’s clear action is needed.

we also spoke to Head Chef Luke Kemsley at Rushey Green who has both professional and personal experience of the issue at hand, he says:

“I…feel fortunate to have had free school meals. I grew up in South East London, with a single mother, and as a family we didn’t have much money, but I did get food at school. I don’t know where I’d have been without it. 

Some children don’t have enough food in their packed lunch box but they pretend otherwise or they’ll stay away from the dining hall because they’re embarrassed. We’ll seek them out and ensure they eat. We want them to know there will be a healthy, nutritious meal provided every day at school and not be worrying about the build up to lunchtime and whether they will have to hide or feel ashamed of what is (or isn’t ) in their packed lunch.”

Schools are faced with incredibly tough challenges this winter, they’re determined to feed, teach and support all of their children under the most difficult of circumstances and are finding ways to help families as much as they can, but they need urgent help from the Government, and they need it now.

We’re calling for an immediate extension of free school meal entitlement to all children from families on universal credit to ensure the children that need vital support to stay fed and fuelled aren’t falling through the cracks.

Head to the link in our bio to read the Survation polling, sign BiteBack’s petition, or write to your MP via the Food Foundation.