UK child food poverty soars – survey
The number of children afflicted by food poverty in the UK nearly doubled in January from a year ago, The Guardian has reported, citing a survey by the think tank Food Foundation.
According to the findings, 22% of households polled reported either skipping meals or not eating for a whole day last month. In January 2022, the figure stood at only 12%. The overall number of British children suffering from a lack of food has now reached almost 4 million, data showed.
The alarming trend comes as the country suffers from record-high food inflation, spurred by soaring energy costs. The indicator now stands at 17.1%, according to the latest figures released by market researcher Kantar earlier this week, with milk, eggs, and margarine showing the fastest price growth. The cost-of-living crisis is further exacerbated by the government’s recent decision to cut back support for household energy bills.
The public is now urging the British authorities to expand free school meals across the country. A separate survey by the Food Foundation found that 80% of respondents were in favor of making all British children eligible for free meals in school. Currently, only households with an annual income under £7,400 qualify for free meals, leaving some 800,000 children living in poverty but ineligible for the benefit, according to Child Poverty Action Group.
“By extending free school meals to more children in England in the next budget, the government could deliver a policy change that is popular with voters, targeted and timely, and truly delivers on levelling up,” Anna Taylor, the CEO of Food Foundation, said, commenting on the findings.
According to London Mayor Sadiq Khan, free school meals could save families about £440 per child annually. Earlier this month, he announced that London schools would offer free meals to all primary school pupils for a year starting in September.
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