Upset about how long it took to guarantee free school meals for students at home in the first place? Don’t worry, you can be sure your child won’t starve with the new government-approved 8 potatoes, one loaf of bread, and two tomatoes to last 10 days, amongst other goodies loved by all children, such as malt loaf.
With this government’s abysmal history of handling free school meals, it isn’t particularly surprising that this has happened, but it is nonetheless disappointing. During the first lockdown, families were given £30 vouchers instead of this hamper system, giving parents the freedom to shop in the way that is most beneficial for their family, allowing them to cater to dietary requirements and financial constraints. Unfortunately, the Conservatives have relapsed into their history of obsession with working class criminality and decided that the poor can’t be trusted with such decisions. Apparently, by giving money to poor families, you are funding crack dens and this was supposedly a widespread issue with the summer vouchers. Finding any evidence for this is as challenging as looking for a needle in a haystack, though maybe the evidence is in the same place as all working class people are hiding their pearls which should be used to buy meals.
You may be wondering which genius is behind this well-researched, cost-effective, nutritious hamper. That would be Chartwells, who aren’t actually culinarily inept as you may believe looking at the hamper but are actually capable of creating some beautiful looking meals, especially when it’s for the private schools that they normally cater for.
The catchy quote “A lifetime of health and well-being starts with our food experiences at school” can be found on their website, conveying a dedication to healthy eating and creating good food, so you can only wonder why they think that the same doesn’t apply to students at home. Whether it’s because the students are poor, Chartwells are being lazy, or they’re just genuinely inept with budgeting remains a mystery.
If this all sounds too generous to some of the more right-leaning readers, firstly, you try to feed a child on that for 10 days and see how many vitamin deficiencies can be detected by the end. Secondly, don’t worry, some people haven’t even been receiving their full £30 worth. Taxpayers are essentially being charged £30 for what amounts to probably about £10 in Aldi.
There are certainly ideological divides in this country regarding the role of the state and how much intervention is the right amount, but surely ideology can’t apply to starving children? The sorts of children benefitting this aren’t one’s going to fancy private schools who will be given everything they want by their parents, it’s children living in all kinds of poverty who won’t be capable of achieving the neoliberal dream of seamless social mobility based purely on merit if they aren’t able to complete their school work because they haven’t been able to eat because that month a choice had to be made between rent or food. This isn’t a tiny issue that applies to a group so negligibly small that it doesn’t matter, this is 1.4 million children. Besides, even if it was only 140 children, every child needs food. When you tell a child that they can’t eat tonight because the role of the state should be minimal and their mum should just pick up an extra job, perhaps you can also then explain to them why their mum has to always be at work and how it’s also fine for children to grow up without their parents being there.
If you would like to help a child in need, please write to your local MP or donate to https://fareshare.org.uk/donate/