Mick Whitley MP joins fight against child food insecurity

Mick Whitley MP joins fight against child food insecurity

A Wirral MP has backed calls for urgent government action to tackle child food insecurity.

UK public health leaders have written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak outlining three key actions to tackle child food poverty and support a healthy population and productive economy.

The letter, led by the Faculty of Public Health, the Association of Directors of Public Health, the Royal Society for Public Health and the School and Public Health Nurses Association, has garnered broad support from parliamentarians and third sector organisations.

Birkenhead MP Mick Whitley is among more than 30 MPs and 20 members of the House of Lords who signed the letter urging Mr Sunak to support children’s health and development by providing access to free The National School’s School Meals will be expanded to include a Breakfast Program and a Healthy Start Program.

Mick Whitley MP (Image: Newsquest)

As of September 2022, more than a quarter of households with children were food insecure, and the current cost-of-living crisis is set to increase that figure.

Food insecurity in children contributes to increased anxiety, poor mental health, poor social and emotional development, and lower academic achievement.

The letter, signed by more than 100 people, makes three important requests to the government to deal with this crisis:

  • Expand access to free school meals for all children in households receiving Universal Credit and remove £7,400 income cap.
  • Increased funding for the National School Breakfast Program to initially expand service from 2,500 to 5,000 schools, with a long-term plan to reach a higher percentage of disadvantaged students.
  • Promote access to the Healthy Start program and expand access to all families with young children who receive Universal Credit.

Mick Whitley MP said: “To meet these demands I, along with the other signatories, recommend the introduction of new targeted levies on unhealthy food and drink, such as adopting the National Diet Strategy’s recommendation for a new salt and sugar levy.

“This is a solution that would generate revenue and improve children’s nutrition and physical health now and in the future.”

Professor Kevin Fenton CBE, President of the Faculty of Public Health, said: “Faced with the cost of living crisis, many families in the UK are currently grappling with the reality of food poverty and are unable to meet even their most basic needs.

“Initiatives such as free school meals, the National School Breakfast Scheme and the Healthy Start program are an important lifeline, but with too many children and families unable to access these services, the government is missing an opportunity to decisively address the reality and impact of the child Food poverty affecting the lives and life chances of disadvantaged children and young people in the UK.

“To protect and improve the health of disadvantaged communities across the UK and to support a healthy, productive population, we are calling on the Government to fully implement our recommendations to expand access to these vital services to those who need them most require.”

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