LAST week, we were in Westminster for the launch of the Children’s #Right2Food Charter, which is an attempt to make sure that every child in the four countries of the UK has enough food to eat – and that the food is good quality and not junk.
The Children’s Future Food Inquiry says it is the first time that there has been an organised attempt to speak to children who live in poverty and to find out what they think about the UK’s food system and how a lack of food affects them.
The Children’s Future Food Inquiry was set up by The Food Foundation, which is an organisation that tries to improve the UK’s food system. Experts and MPs from many political parties were involved in collecting evidence.
They spoke to kids around the UK over the last 12 months and released their final report last week. The launch had some added Hollywood sparkle from their ambassador Dame Emma Thompson (aka Nanny McPhee and Professor Sybil Trelawney), although the first thing she did was to apologise for being a celebrity. She said she was sorry that we’ve created a society where good causes need “some old windbag like me” to get attention!
There are a lot of problems with the way our food system works, but the main one is that many people simply struggle to afford either enough food or the right sort of food. The report says that between 2.5-4 million children in the UK don’t have enough to eat or their families can’t afford a healthy diet. “All this in the fifth richest economy in the world,” said Sharon Hodgson MP. “It shouldn’t be this way.”
The report makes lots of points about things being different in the UK’s four countries, such as free school meals applying to different age groups, or free
fruit and veg schemes not covering every country.
There are lots of stories from kids, including some who ration their own food so that other family members can eat, or kids who’ve turned up to school with an empty lunchbox. “I eat crisps for breakfast,” said one – but many don’t even have that.
Some kids at the launch said that one boy at their school often turned up with just three fish fingers in his lunchbox.
“But most of the time he only brings a packet of crisps,” Niedjeni told us.
Nazeeha added that many kids try to hide it by pretending that they’re fasting or using some other excuse. “It’s a stigma [feeling of shame] and people will offend them, so they feel really alone and left out and just want to be invisible there and then,” she says.