GMB members working in schools encounter children with no food at home

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GMB London has learnt that the free school meals offered by London Borough of Newham face the axe because of the financial drain brought about by the pandemic. In addition to a decade of budget cuts, Newham and many other councils face difficult decisions about cutting funding to non-essential services.

The Borough’s Universal Free School Meals (UFSM) scheme ensures all three-to-11 year-olds receive a free dinner during term time, but after 11 years of providing this life-line for children living in the second poorest London borough, this essential project is under threat. The impact of the closure of this scheme will mean many, many children in the Borough will experience hunger.

This week UNICEF announced it would fund emergency food packages for South London schools, an area in the UK, in one of the richest countries. UNICEF has responded to the need to address real food poverty and hunger in South London. It is time for the government to wake up to the fact that this is happening on their watch.

Councils across the UK are faced with decisions about cuts to non-essential services, schemes like the UFSM, providing free meals to children are totally essential and should not even be considered for axing. GMB London urges Newham and other councils not to jeopardise the health and safety of children if this scheme and others like it are axed.

Keith Williams, GMB London Region, Senior Organiser for Public Services said:

“Jacob Rees-Mogg comments that UNICEF should be ashamed for feeding British children are cruel, heartless and needless and show that he has no concept of what it is like for children to go hungry.

“The audacity of this millionaire to denigrate UNICEF’s actions as a political stunt of the lowest order in providing £25,000 to feed children is no more than a cheap shot to deflect the failings of his government. 

“Jacob Rees Mogg has no concept of what it is like for children to go hungry, he has spent all his life sucking a silver spoon. In blunt and stark terms, it is his government who are taking food from the mouths of millions of children from poorer backgrounds"

“Our members working in schools already encounter children with no food at home, they see packed lunches with little to satisfy a child’s hunger so buy snacks to supplement the children’s lunch boxes, paid for out of their own pockets with the knowledge that all too many parents are struggling to make ends meet."


Contact: Keith Williams, GMB London Region, Senior Organiser for Public Services 077 1063 1339.