No child should go hungry

Last week I reported that Kirsty Williams had committed to extend free school meals through the holidays and right up to next Easter. Of course, that only applies in Wales where she is the Education Minister.

But this week MPs shamefully voted against a similar programme in England, in spite of the widespread support for Marcus Rashford’s campaign.

Lib Dems, headed by Daisy Cooper, have been calling for action:

There is a petition to sign, in which we call for:

  • Free school meals to every pupil whose parents or guardians are in receipt of Universal Credit
  • Food vouchers for every one of those pupils in every school holiday and during any period of lockdown
  • Free school meals to pupils from low-income families whose parents or guardians have no recourse to public funds and destitute asylum seekers

I’ve signed it. Will you?


* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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  • John Marriott 23rd Oct '20 - 1:11pm

    As a teacher for 34 years I know how important it is that youngsters have access to a proper diet. You can’t always rely on parents providing this, even if they have the wherewithal to provide it. That’s why I supported the Lib Dem policy of free school meals for five year olds, which became reality under the Coalition government. It’s just a pity that it stopped there.

    You can blame feckless parents, absentee fathers etc if you want. I’m sure that the usual suspects will be saying things like; “If you can’t afford kids you shouldn’t be having ‘em”. If not actually saying it, I bet that many are thinking it!

    No, whoever is at fault it’s certainly not the youngsters. So why penalise them? Without proper nourishment nobody can expect to function properly, especially if that ‘body’ is still growing. So, pay up and stop prevaricating!

  • This was our partys premier achievement in the co-alition years so why oh why is our leadership not jumping up and down with fury. We need leadership NOW SirEd.

  • Steve Trevethan 23rd Oct '20 - 1:58pm

    Do too many of our “national book balancing” and “national debt avoidance” M. P.s seem to be unable to use these loudly promoted principles when it comes to their own wallets and purses?

  • Yes the 50p Daily Star ( yes ,good value compared to the right wing rags) has their menu (MPs) splashed on the front page ,as they did with the scrooge Tories over childrens holiday school meals.

  • The petition and a copy of the front of the daily star make a good focus / local campaign. The front is on the BBC website.

    Actually the Daily Star is probably a right wing paper it was owned by Richard Desmond along with the Express. Although the same company now owns it and the labour supporting Mirror.

    However it does make a point of often being a non politics paper. See the Yes, Minister clip that I am sure is on YouTube about papers and their readers.. Substituting the Daily Star for The Sun in the clip. As it is slightly vulgar and may be of the 80s I won’t repeat it here.

  • I would also personally extend universal term time free school meals to all school children up to GSCE (at least).

    I appreciate that this is expensive and we also had a recent discussion/thread I believe about it.

    But there are several I think good reasons for it.

    As a warm fuzzy liberal I like the idea of all kids sitting down to a meal together or equally important throwing it each other!

    The stigma of being on free school meals and sometimes bullying for being different.

    Actually those just above the free school meals level or indeed those just below miss out on a load of benefits and may actually be poorer than those below it. And those who are eligible. if they can afford it may not claim because of above.

    Universal benefits are immensely popular among the middle class and so they continue. My mother loved getting child benefit although truth be told being on above average incomes they were probably taxed more for it than they got back!

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Oct '20 - 4:23pm

    Rashford does not have a political party, just Manchester United, but on Question Time it was said that Tory MPs did not vote for the motion because it was on the Commons Agenda as a Labour motion.
    Surely there must be an alternative to shouting verbal abuse across the Chamber and
    getting reprimanded by the Deputy Speaker?
    A former Speaker reported in her autobiography that the late Ian Paisley MP (DUP) thanked her because he had got a whole page in a newspaper in Belfast.
    As an MEP he went out of his way to insult a guest Speaker, the then Pope, who was presumably multi-lingual. There was was no procedure for expulsion but a new precedent was created for this large man. I do not know whether he sent a thank you letter.

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Oct '20 - 4:32pm

    Rashford is listing sites which provide free food.
    Saint Paul refers to ‘faith’ without ‘works’.
    Possibly ‘works’ without ‘faith’ is less of an issue?

  • A suggestion for this year’s Blackpool Illumination..

    Put up in lights the name and constituency of each of the 322 Tory MPs who voted to allow children to go hungry during the holidays…

    They are beyond shame but a few weeks of their names flashing in bright lights might remind the public of just what they voted for..

  • John Marriott 23rd Oct '20 - 7:15pm

    It looks very much as if a citizens’ initiative, as a response to the actions of Marcus Rashford, has stepped up to the plate. Who needs politicians, it would seem?

  • It seems a number of local Councils are doing it themselves.
    Lib Dem run Kingston has just announced that it will provide free school meals or vouchers across half term and the Christmas break.

  • John Marriott 23rd Oct '20 - 8:45pm

    @Mary Reid
    You know, this is a really massive opportunity for local government to show central government what it is capable of doing. The public is watching.

  • Helen Dudden 24th Oct '20 - 8:43am

    I knew of one child who would rely on school meals. I worked in Teacher Staffing for several years, also maintenance of police stations and other buildings. Enjoyed working in the Public Sector, it is rewarding.
    The government is wasting tax payers or borrowed funding like it’s being printed to waste. Billions on the Track and Trace.
    There was a real lack of planning, during the break in education, for all those children who were home for months. My little granddaughter, most certainly, was finding it difficult to sleep, and so wanted the fresh air play provided.
    This is a serious issue and I believe we need joint efforts, like a coalition government could provide. But the brakes on foolish spending and waste.

  • John Bicknell 24th Oct '20 - 9:19am

    Michael 1: The Mirror Group now own the Express & the Star, hence why they are currently using the Star in an aggressive, and crudely effective campaign against the government.

  • @john bicknell

    May be. They have kept the Express as a very right wing and very pro Brexit paper. The Daily Star has always been very light on politics. This is my impression I am not an avid reader of either or their websites so I may be wrong. It has to be said that even the daily mail and daily telegraph are not above bashing the Tories from “the left” from time to time.

    @Katerina Porter

    Thanks for expressing your agreement and support.

  • Peter Martin 24th Oct '20 - 3:51pm

    This is Marcus Rashford’s Petition:

    Looks like it’s on way to over 1 million signatures.

  • Gerald Stewart 25th Oct '20 - 12:01pm

    Where parents struggle to feed their children, there will often be other areas of deprivation in the child’s life such as access to adequate heating or clothing.
    Perhaps the party could campaign for a utilities bill circuit breaker alongside free school meals through the holidays?

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