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There's no justification for children going hungry
LAST week’s call by a Pendle councillor for charities to bring food banks to Nelson is disturbing and raises a number of serious questions.
Coun Eileen Ansar said school dinner ladies had reported pupils turning up with only a sandwich or a few biscuits to see them through until teatime.
She said some young families faced a choice between keeping a roof over their heads and eating three square meals a day. Housing benefit, she insisted, was not enough to meet average rents in the town.
Whatever the government says about the nation’s economic troubles, we are not a poor country and there can be no justification for children going hungry.
There is of course an argument about public money subsidising youngsters to buy ‘junk food’ with little or no nutritional value and merely fuels health problems and our obesity epidemic.
But I thought school meals were meant to be healthy and if incomes are below a certain level families are entitled to free ones anyway.
If they are not being taken up then it’s better surely to educate people on how to get what is rightfully theirs?
There is another possibility – that these pupils have parents who do have the incomes but are failing to face up to their responsibilities to meet the needs of sons and daughters.
If that’s the case there has to be intervention to educate (without pussyfooting around) feckless adults and make certain youngsters don’t suffer.
And also perhaps to check children aren’t being given money for food – and frittering it away on something else!
Giving out vouchers as part of benefits to direct spending to food rather than fags or booze would be a good way of tackling the issue.
If such action is said to be demeaning for benefit recipients then I’d argue that if they can show that feeding their children is the top priority then it won’t be necessary.
Charities do superb work in helping to develop the third world as well as supporting so many at home who are failed by our so-called welfare state.
But they should not be expected to stop our children from suffering hunger pangs in the classroom.
It’s such a basic matter that there has to be an effective government safety net.