UK children are coming to school hungry, either because their parents are too poor to help or because children are suffering from neglect, a study has shown. According to the Children’s Society, nearly half of teachers are seeing hungry children coming into school.
The report, Food for thought: a survey on teachers’ views on school meals, reveals that 72 per cent of teachers have seen children coming to school with no lunch and no money to pay for lunch. Some 66 per cent stated that members of staff give children food or money if they come to school hungry.
Food for thought also found that 98 per cent of teachers believe that all children living in poverty should receive a free school meal, regardless of whether their parents are working.
There are 2.2 million children living in poverty in England, and more than half of them miss out on free school meals, often because their parents work. Others do not take up the offer of free school meals due to embarrassment.
Matthew Reed, chief executive of the Children’s Society, said, ‘Every child in poverty should be given a free school meal. Free school meals are key to moving children out of poverty and vital to helping them to flourish’.
The report comes after the Government announced, in its recent Autumn Statement, plans for Universal Credit, which will ensure all children in poverty get a free school meal.