Despite what the left reiterates, the notion that the Government is “starving” children is absurd. Free meals are a benefit, not a right.
The Government already provides free healthcare, housing and other benefits for those who need support from our welfare state. Why should they also provide free school meals for students when they aren’t at school? It is not the Government’s responsibility to look after people’s children.
However, in this prosperous nation we live in, is it right that children starve through the school holidays? Especially considering the amount of reckless spending our Government has done during this pandemic. This includes the Government spending £900k just to repaint Boris Johnson’s official plane. On top of this, Johnson has spent £100 million on a Brexit campaign.
It is estimated that, to keep the scheme running throughout the one-week half-term break, it would cost the Government £20 million, which would be a drop in the ocean compared to other Government spending schemes. Why does the magic money pot disappear when it comes to feeding the children of our country?
If the government were actually being frugal, then the issue of FSM during the holidays would be easier to argue against. However, schemes like “Eat Out To Help Out” make the Government look ridiculous when they deny help to young people.
In order to achieve economic prosperity, ensuring that future generations aren’t malnourished is a no brainer. It has been shown that FSM has been linked to increased academic performance for poorer pupils. The Institute of Fiscal Studies has shown that children in schools with breakfast clubs make two months of additional academic progress over the course of a year compared to those without these breakfast provisions. In addition to this, students going hungry could cost the English economy at least £5.2 million a year, through the lost teaching time spent on dealing with the needs of hungry pupils.
We must not forget about the usefulness of charity. This is shown through Marcus Rashford’s success in raising £20 million to provide food for school kids.
It’s clear that the issue of students in food poverty needs addressing. Either through the state or charity, if we truly want equality of opportunity, we must feed our students.