Responding to the Government’s decision not to extend free school meals for children in England over the half-term, BMA board of science chair Professor Dame Parveen Kumar said:
“The BMA has had longstanding concerns over the impact of poverty and inequality on child health and the Government’s shameful refusal to extend the school meals scheme will directly impact the most disadvantaged children.
“With half-term commencing today, it beggars belief that so many are having to persuade the Government to reverse this decision.
“Having access to a free school meal, for many children, is their main source of nutrition in a day and can have a huge impact on their health, development, and overall wellbeing. As well as providing a meal for children whose families would otherwise be unable to afford it, extending the scheme may be the only access some children have to a nutritional, healthy meal as opposed to harmful, unhealthy foods during school holidays.
“The pandemic has brought even further hardship to many families who may have already been struggling or who are now finding themselves on the breadline as health inequalities around the country continue to worsen. There are also concerns that without a national policy in place, many families will be subject to a postcode lottery of whether they can access food during this time.
“It cannot be right that in the 21st century, in this relatively affluent country, parents should find themselves in the agonising position of worrying if they can feed their children. The Government must immediately reverse its decision as it know full well that many children may go hungry and undernourished as a result.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.
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