Letter: Help close the gap

Date published: 19 December 2017

Dear Editor,

A Private Members’ Bill to counter hunger amongst children during school holidays, has been put forward by Frank Field MP with cross-party backing.

For an area like Oldham which has above UK average levels of child poverty in a number of Council wards this issue is a vital one.

A recent Unicef report found that one in three British children are in ‘multi-dimensional poverty’ and says gaps between rich and poor are widening around the world, with the UK being the highest in developed rich countries.

This bill has its upcoming second reading on 19 January in Parliament it is vital threat as many MP's as possible attend to show their support.

Universal Free School meals for children in Reception and Key Stage 1 is a positive intervention in tackling the challenge of hunger, however, consider the fact that the traditional model of education front loads key learning during morning sessions when children are at their most productive and the impact of this is significantly reduced.

In some schools a high percentage of children attend school each day without breaking the fast of the previous day and some even without a drink.

Many factors contribute to this; poverty and unconscious neglect being the two most common. An empty stomach affects concentration, energy levels, attentiveness and emotional wellbeing.

Prolonged exposure to lack of food ultimately results in children working below age related expectations. Traditional models of interventions, designed to support children 'catch up' and 'close the gap', are ineffective if the targeted children continue to present each day at school with empty stomachs.

The fact that we have children going hungry during the school holidays is not only deeply shocking, but also preventable. The bill would help to ensure that children whose families struggle during the holidays, wherever they live, have access to holiday activities and food.

Concerned readers  can lobby their MP to attend using the campaign resources available at The Real Junk Food Project, Fuel for School website at:

Thank you.


Andrew Wastling

The views expressed are those of the author of the letter and not those of Oldham Chronicle.