Vikki Slade calls on council to support local children

"I have been deeply saddened to read some of the comments aimed at families whose children receive Free School Meals. The suggestion that "they had them they should feed them" is simplistic, generalising and unfair. Even if true, it should never be for a child to pay the price for decisions made by their parents.

In a civilised society, everyone should have the opportunity to achieve their potential and children certainly cannot do that when they are hungry. At school children should be on a level playing field, that is why I supported Universal Infant Free School Meals and support their extension to older children too. We have school uniform so kids are not teased about their clothes and parents don't have to worry about keeping up with the Jones' (though we should be seeing schools work to bring the cost of uniform down). School meals should ensure that whatever is going on at home, all our children get a varied diet, nutritionally rich, social time to eat and families don't feel stigmatized by claiming. Until we get to that point the very least we can do is to ensure that those children don't suffer in school holidays - stories of hoarding food from the days before the end of term or stealing food from canteens are distressing to read and hear and it's hard to believe they are happening in 21st century and not in the days of Dickens.

I was proud to introduce a Community Food Co-Ordinator to help bring together support in our community for EVERYONE affected by hidden hunger - from extending community fridges, creating an app to help families find local schemes or follow simple recipes and helping people find places to donate or volunteer, but we are now asking the council to look to fund the children who rely on Free School Meals through the upcoming holidays while a longer term solution is found.

I urge anyone who agrees, to get involved and sign our petition here"

- Cllr Vikki Slade

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