ALL NEWS

UK doctors demand free meals for kids as COVID fuels hunger

Oct 25, 2020, 9:37 AM
UK doctors demand free meals for kids as COVID fuels hunger...
A view of a 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, Friday, 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)
(Tim Goode/PA via AP)

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. Rashford’s campaign helped pressure Johnson’s 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.

Rashford has spoken movingly about depending on free school lunches as a child and was recently honored by the queen for his dedication to the issue of child hunger.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis, who spoke for the government on Britain’s Sunday morning news programs, claimed that lawmakers were taking a broader approach. He said the government has increased welfare benefits nationwide and has provided 63 million pounds ($82 million) to local communities to help people.

“What we are looking to do is ensure that we deal with child poverty at the core, putting the structure in place that means even in school holidays, children can get access to the food that they need,” he told Sky News on Sunday.

The opposition Labour Party has warned it will bring the issue back to the House of Commons if ministers do not change course in time for Christmas.

Advocates for children have been shocked by the political stalemate. The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, said she has been both horrified and disappointed by the debate.

“We’re a wealthy country, it’s 2020,” she told Sky News. “To have a debate about whether we should make sure that hungry and vulnerable children have enough to eat is something that is strikingly similar to something we’d expect to see in chapters of ‘Oliver Twist’ — a novel published in the 19th century.”

___
Follow all of AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Today’s Top Stories

All News

Tooele City announced its firework restrictions Sunday evening. Photo Credit: Tooele City's Faceboo...
Devin Oldroyd

Tooele City releases fireworks restrictions map

Tooele City announced its firework restrictions Sunday evening.
21 hours ago
A Navy soldier stands guard as authorities wait for the arrival of people who were evacuated from t...
Associated Press

Tropical Storm Colin brings rain to Carolinas, weakens

Tropical Storm Colin formed along the coast on Saturday. Conditions are expected to improve by Monday's Fourth of July celebrations.
21 hours ago
Photo credit: UDOT...
Devin Oldroyd

Semi-truck rolls on I-80 at U.S.-40, Silver Creek Junction

What caused the semi-truck to roll is still under investigation at this time. All lanes in the area have been cleared and are operational.
21 hours ago
People leave Field's shopping centre, after Danish police said they received reports of shooting, i...
Kim Norgaard, Pierre Meilhan and Jorge Engels, CNN

Several people killed in Copenhagen mall shooting, police say

shooting at a mall in Copenhagen has left several people dead, local police said Sunday.
21 hours ago
Travelers wait in for a TSA security check at the Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles,...
DAVID KOENIG ASSOCIATED PRESS

Pre-pandemic sized crowds descend on US airports for holiday

TSA is reporting crowds of pre-pandemic size are traveling this Independence Day.
3 days ago
The National Weather Service of Salt Lake City says there is a red flag warning in effect for Weste...
Lindsay Aerts

Fourth of July weekend weather conditions ripe for fires

The National Weather Service of Salt Lake City says there is a red flag warning in effect for Western Utah. It warns that many fires are human caused.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
UK doctors demand free meals for kids as COVID fuels hunger