Government urged to act on the 'scandal of hunger' in new report

10/12/2015 - 10:13
The Government should strongly consider introducing a sugar tax and use 20% of the levy to fund a national programme of school holiday food provision, according to a new report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger.

The Feeding Britain report - A route map to ending hunger as we know it in the United Kingdom calls on the Government to introduce an equivalent to the Cobra committee - used in response to emergencies such as terrorist attacks - to tackle the problem of hunger.

Frank Field, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger, said: “The Government seems to treat the scandal of hunger as little more than a boil of no significance on our society. Nothing could be further from the truth. The body of our country is wreaked by a raging fever called hunger.

“I address again the Prime Minister to act this day, as I did in Prime Minister’s Questions as long ago as 2012. When the country is faced with a national emergency the Government mobilises the full force of the state through what is called a Cobra Committee. This brings together all the relevant departments of government to concentrate urgently on action that day.

“Please will the Prime Minister show a similar urgency over the hunger that stalks our land and act through a Cobra Committee to counter hunger?”

The report looks at child hunger in the school holidays and recommends that a national programme backed by £200 million could all but eliminate child hunger during the school holidays and considerably reduce the number of families relying on emergency food parcels.

Housing Benefit records should be used to identify families whose children are eligible for free school meals to stop the problems stemming from the under registration of eligible children.

The Group also calls for an extension to its Troubled Families programme to help ‘turn around’ the lives of families who send their children to school hungry. Free breakfast facilities should be available at all schools, where possible.

Magic Breakfast should provide the All-Parliamentary Group on Hunger with a list of its partner schools, so MPs can encourage schools not on the list to begin providing free breakfast facilities.

The report also calls for the Department for Education to consult on the most effective use of its free school meals budget to ensure all poor children are guaranteed a free school meal each day.

Fields adds: “Each day an unknown number of children go to bed hungry and take that hunger with them into school. At the same time we taxpayers pay supermarkets and food manufacturers to turn into energy the food that could end that hunger. This amounts to a huge national disgrace.”

The Group will campaign for a co-ordinated strategy to tackle hunger, alongside a more efficient food system that puts human needs first, the expansion of social supermarkets giving comprehensive help on jobs and skills and a new deal on the costs of household essentials.

To read the full Feeding Britain report, click here.

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