Save our Children, writes Linda Chung

October 31, 2020 2:47 AM
By Linda Chung

Linda ChungThe below letter with its explosive content was published in the Camden New Journal and the Ham and High on 29 October 2020:


The reality of child hunger has been highlighted by Marcus Rashford telling us about his own experiences. Due to the diligence of his mother, he never actually starved but there were many days he went hungry as meagre rations were shared between him and his siblings when money got tight.

Hunger has surged during lockdown with government figures revealing as many as 7.7 million adults cut down on portion sizes or missed meals because they could not afford food. The demand for food banks has grown.

With various statistics flying around, and alarmed by recent figures showing the number of hospital admissions of adults and children suffering from starvation and malnutrition, according to research done by Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat MP, I decided to do my own research focusing on our local general hospital, the Royal Free Hospital (RFH).

My Freedom of Information Request showed that six children were admitted to the RFH and were discharged in the period between 01 September 2019 and 31 August 2020 who had malnutrition or starvation listed as a primary or secondary diagnosis.

This is shocking in a community which is considered relatively prosperous - no child should suffer from lack of food.

Yet the government voted against extending free school meals into school holidays. They claim that "packages in place" to support families.

Who are they kidding? Their so-called packages have never worked to help families in real poverty and hardship. The government does not seem to understand the urgency and seriousness of the situation. It says free school meals are not the solution, but one starving child is unacceptable, never mind six.

They may claim that £63m has been given to local authorities to help families, and £20M has been riven to extend Universal Credit. But the crisis of Covid has swallowed those funds up, we need a simple system to ensure that children are fed, not a load of bureaucracy that delays relief. Feed the child, not give its parents claim forms to fill in to justify their need for food.

With pressure from major food suppliers, and 2000 paediatricians who back the Marcus Rashford campaign to ensure children have enough to eat, let's hope that the government will have come to its senses and done a U-turn by the time this letter is published in the next three days."

Written by former Camden Councillor, Linda Chung.