Source: AP News
LONDON (AP) Pediatricians are urging the British government to reverse course and provide free meals for poor children during school holidays as the COVID-19 pandemic pushes more families into poverty. Some 2,200 members of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health have written an open letter to Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson, saying they were shocked by his refusal″ to back down on the issue.
The House of Commons last week rejected legislation that would have provided free meals during all school holidays from October through the Easter break. The doctors say some 4 million children live in poverty, and a third rely on free school meals. Many parents in Britain have lost their jobs or are working reduced hours during the pandemic, making it imperative to make it possible for poor children over the holidays get at least one nutritious meal a day, the doctors argue.
Families who were previously managing are now struggling to make ends meet because of the impact of COVID-19, the doctors wrote. It is not good enough to send them into the holiday period hoping for the best, while knowing that many will simply go hungry. Most schools in England begin a one-week holiday on Monday.
The doctors heaped praise on Marcus Rashford, a 22-year-old star soccer player for Manchester United who has used his celebrity to highlight the issue. Rashfords campaign helped pressure Johnsons government into providing free meals during a nationwide coronavirus lockdown earlier this year, and he has gathered more than 800,000 signatures on a petition to extend the program.
Lunch box at the Pudding Pantry which they will be providing free, during half term for any child in need, who would normally get a free school lunch, after MPs voted to reject a motion to provide food to those in need during the school holidays, in Nottingham, England, Fri., Oct. 23, 2020. Pediatricians are urging the British government to reverse course and provide free meals for poor children during school holidays as the COVID-19 pandemic pushes more families into poverty. (Tim Goode/PA via AP)
– Jonathan Pie’s rant on the UK govt. not extending the school meals program, Oct. 24, 2020.