A primary school has set up a food bank for starving kids whose parents are struggling under austerity.
Head Debbie Whiting started it after seeing students so hungry they were stealing from other children’s packed lunches, and if children are starving they just can’t learn anything. Children need to be fed, clothed and warm.
The food bank at North Denes juniors in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, is believed to be the first at a British school where staff and some parents donate additional items from their shopping and a charity has given £1,500.
Mum Sadie Carter, who has two children at the school, said she fell to “rock bottom” after running out of money and was “crying for days”. She didn’t know what to do, but the school stepped up to help.
Debbie Whiting, 54, has further introduced cooking classes for parents, a clothes bank and free breakfast toast for pupils.
Half the 420 students at the school – deemed good by watchdog Ofsted – get free meals. The trouble is, it’s a deprived coastal area and the difficulties parents encounter are not of their making because a number of families have switched from benefits to Universal Credit and have seen delays in their money coming through, even though Universal Credit said that they’ve made 100 per cent advances available from day one.
That’s five weeks without any income, no savings, and loads of debts with numerous people not having enough money to feed themselves or their children, and there are many people out there that are less fortunate and don’t have the skills to budget, organise or plan, and a little empathy wouldn’t go astray.
And the price of austerity in the United Kingdom has fallen disproportionately on children, leaving them starving at school and forcing teachers to collect food and send it home with their students.
Children are showing up late for school with empty bellies, and schools are assembling food on an ad hoc basis and sending it home because teachers know that their pupils will otherwise go hungry, and students who qualify for free school meals are missing out because their parents don’t sign up, as the government faces growing pressure to tackle a developing problem with food poverty and holiday hunger amongst children.
Children are growing up in poverty uncertain of their fate, with young people who believe that gangs are the only way out of their poverty, and then there are the people with disabilities who are being told that they need to go back to work or lose their support against their doctor’s orders.
And this suffering has been perpetrated needlessly on millions of children who are being locked into a cycle of poverty from which most will have great trouble escaping, and local governments are struggling with essential services they’re statutorily bound to provide.
Northamptonshire County Council has twice had to issue a formal notice indicating that it was in danger of illegally using more than the resources it had free, and as a result, there were concerns that hundreds of vulnerable children were at higher risk of harm due to quickly declining frontline child protection services.
We need additional funding for councils to tackle holiday hunger because, for approximately one in every two children to be poor in the twenty-first century, Britain is not only a disgrace but a social disaster and an economic catastrophe, all rolled into one.