In My View – Rosena Allin-Khan, MP for Tooting

While Over the last week, we’ve seen the best of Britain.

Hundreds of businesses, many of which have been struggling over the last few months, have stepped up to support their local communities with meals for children.

I am deeply disappointed that the Government refused to fund Free School Meals over the half -term holidays.

There have been billions of pounds thrown at a failed track and trace system, and hundreds of millions wasted on faulty protective equipment. Yet, there isn’t enough money to feed hungry children?

We are currently in the midst of a global pandemic which has claimed 10s of thousands of lives and has had an unprecedented impact on job security for so many.

Local headteachers are keen to highlight that the free school meals scheme is vital to their students, because it guarantees children get at least one hot meal a day.

Some schools even have breakfast clubs to ensure children get a proper breakfast. Children cannot learn and grow with empty stomachs. The response from Government Ministers has been “It’s the parents’ responsibility to feed their children; not the state”.

This is an incredibly fickle point and shows a real lack of understanding of what it is like for ordinary people.

For those families with very little left over after paying rent and bills, the added pressure that school holidays can bring to household budgets is immense.

Wandsworth council have responded by providing meals to the borough’s most vulnerable children, but the issue is far more widespread than that. Food bank use is at an all-time high, thousands of Wandsworth children are homeless, and free school meals really help ease the burden.

For so many, free school meals are a lifeline.

I want to thank all the local businesses who, despite going through a very uncertain period recently, have stepped up and offered to provide free school meals. Tooting has a world of flavours, and an overwhelming community spirit. It has been so heart-warming to see and I could not be more proud.


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