Coventry MP calls for free school meals this summer

In Coventry North West alone, more than 2,500 children are at risk of going hungry this summer, left to rely on charitable organisations for food.

This week, Taiwo Owatemi, MP for Coventry North West, wrote to the Secretary of State for Education demanding he reverses his decision to withdraw funding for free school meals over the summer holidays, as part of the ‘Holiday without Hunger’ campaign.

In Coventry North West, over 2,500 children are at risk of going hungry this summer as the government withdraws support for the provision of free school meals.

Parents often have to purchase less expensive and unhealthy food during the summer months to make ends meet and sometimes miss household utility bill payments in order to purchase food.

With the added pressure of the coronavirus crisis plunging families into deeper poverty, plus social distancing and other pressures raising questions on whether holiday lunch schemes may run, many families are rightly concerned about how they will afford food during the summer holidays.

Ms Owatemi explained that children are at a heightened risk of going hungry this summer as the COVID-19 crisis hits family incomes and charities and food banks struggle to provide the same level of holiday support.

“There is a simple solution to this, and that is for the government to continue funding free school meals throughout the summer holidays. Their refusal to do so is a deeply callous move,” she said.

“I received free school meals while growing up so I know how important it is for our children’s development. No child should ever have to go hungry.

“That is why I have written to the Secretary of State today to ask him to reverse his decision.”

England footballer Marcus Rashford has also called on the government to reconsider its decision not to extend the food voucher scheme into the summer holidays.

Rashford, who help raise £20million to boost food distribution with the charity FareShare, said he is worried ending the scheme next month will affect the most vulnerable in society, at a time when they least need it.