When I was a child my mum often went through phases where she stopped buying food in the house. I was extremely slim and hungry most of the time. Sometimes there would be something knocking about that I could scrat but we went through long phases where there was hardly ever a cooked meal and there was certainly never anything of substance.
If I hadn’t had free school meals then I would not have eaten anything at all on lots of consecutive days. The lack of food coincided with bad times for my mum which were usually ongoing. She might have been able to get extra help for me, back then, but struggling with mental health issues and addictions meant that her focus was on getting herself through the bad times. A survivalist attitude, perhaps. I get it.
In the meantime, I was just left to get on with it. That free meal that I was entitled to meant I was segregated from my peers, who knew i was too poor to be able to eat (especially with the shouts of the dinner lady “You don’t pay do you, Amy? So skip the queue” and the bright green flash of my free dinner card) but it helped me concentrate a little more, it helped me not become malnourished, and it helped keep my growing terror of the world around me at bay – not everyone had totally turned their back on me, yet.
3,000,000 children go hungry during the summer holidays. That is a huge indication of how much free school meals mean to kids all over the country. The Tories will take away the free lunches children currently get in the first three years of infant school, and instead introduce free breakfasts for all throughout primary. A 6.7 pence per child breakfast. This saves them a lot of money but is not good enough for a growing child, especially not a growing child who may be lacking food of a decent standard.
I can’t imagine being a child with the life I had in this current world, let alone in their current and worsening proposed world. I don’t think that I would survive it, in all honesty. I barely survived as it was. It wasn’t often you saw a kid like me in my school, back then, but I assume it is heartbreakingly common now, as mental health issues spiral out of control, benefit sanctions hit the most needy, and food banks are stretched even more as the lower-middle class have to start using them.
Labour will introduce free school meals for every child by making private school users pay VAT. People who have an issue with that need to question everything about themselves. No child deserves less than another based on their parent’s hand in the unjust wealth game. Children should have an equal chance regardless of their background.
All children should be entitled to eat.
Giving all kids a free lunch is an excellent policy. Taking it away is not.