The Socialist 12 September 2018 |
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4m children in UK in homes that can't afford fruit and veg
£10 an hour now
Reverse benefit cuts
Kids are going hungry, photo Leo Saumure Jr (Creative Commons) (Click to enlarge)
James Ellis, school teacher, Leeds Socialist Party
Four million children in the UK live in households unable to afford enough fruit, vegetables, fish and other essential food groups to meet government nutrition guidelines, says the Food Foundation.
It is outrageous that a rich country in the 21st century leaves so many living in food poverty, consigning growing numbers of working class people to diet-related illnesses and poor quality of life. While the super-rich 1% continue to increase their wealth, millions of young people are going hungry.
As a teacher I have seen the impact of hunger and food poverty first-hand. For many the summer holiday means time to relax and spend time with friends and family. But for some young people and their families, the summer holiday means having to cope with hunger.
I have seen students struggling to focus in class because they haven't had a nutritious meal in days; fainting because they can't get breakfast at home.
School meals are sometimes their only reliable source of hot food. But many schools, especially privately run 'academies', now contract out their catering to private businesses - whose primary concern is profit, not providing a balanced and affordable diet.
The blame for this epidemic of food poverty lies with Tory and Blairite privatisation and austerity - and all the councils, including Labour councils, who have been passing on central government cuts.
To combat this it will be necessary to roll back austerity and reverse all benefit cuts, implement a minimum wage of at least £10 an hour now, and start a huge job creation programme. That could start to give everyone the means to afford a healthy diet.
There should also be free and nutritious school meals available to all school children.
To guarantee these reforms - and pay for them - it will be necessary to plan the economy democratically along socialist lines. That would have to include nationalising the big agricultural companies and supermarkets under democratic workers' control and management.
It is a disgrace that four million kids and their families are going hungry. There is enough wealth in society to provide plenty for all, but capitalism is unable to meet these basic needs. The socialist transformation of society is the only way to ensure that hunger becomes a thing of the past.