FEEDING CHILDREN

IMPACT

When schools closed during lockdown  many children who were receiving free school meals found that the only hot meal they could look forward to all day  had stopped.  Without it they faced hunger and malnutrition.

Before the pandemic, in 2019, the Greater London Authority estimated that 400,000 children aged 16 or under faced food poverty and food insecurity. 

A report by Northumbria University’s Healthy Eating Lab on eating habits during lockdown amongst children who receive free school meals found that half had not eaten any fruit or vegetables at all over a three-day period and 35% said they regularly skipped at least one meal a day.

According to this research over a quarter of respondents said it was harder to afford food compared to the start of the pandemic, while 22% reported using a food bank. 

 

Both the CPAG and C of E researchers found that costs had gone up for many low-income families, many of whom were having to spend more on food and utilities than before. Meanwhile, many had lost work either as a direct result of the lockdown or the loss of support such as childcare.

The governments voucher scheme has proven to be inadequate and flawed and described by the Human Rights Watch as a ‘violation of children and young adults right to food’.

Food bank use has more than quadrupled during in some parts of London during the pandemic particularly in Tower Hamlets and Newham.

When the schools close for Christmas Feed London will be there – with food, with recipes, with hope and support.

Researchers from the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) and the Church of England (C of E) spoke to parents who said they had been forced to sell possessions to protect their children’s quality of life, and found that 80% of poorer families surveyed felt they had become worse off financially since lockdown began.

Save the children’s survey of households on universal credit or working tax credits found nearly two-thirds had run up debts over the past two months, 60% had cut down on food and other basics, and over a third had relied on charities for food and clothes.

According to this research over a quarter of respondents said it was harder to afford food compared to the start of the pandemic, while 22% reported using a food bank. 

How does poverty affect children?

Wherever you live poverty has a devastating impact on a child’s life.

Children living in poverty are more likely to:

  • Have poor physical health

  • Experience mental health problems

  • Have a low sense of well-being 

  • Underachieve at school

  • Have employment difficulties in adult life

  • Experience social deprivation

  • Feel unsafe

  • Experience stigma and bullying at school.

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