I’ve signed a petition today in support of the campaign that is against the rumour that is being bounced around about cutting free school meals for all infant children whose parents are on Universal Credit.
My children are too old for the free school meals that have been given to infant children from September 2014 for a trial of two years.
I know we’ve had debates on here before about why children should/should not get a hot school meal.
If a child has parents who do not work for whatever reason then clearly a child is in a vulnerable position of poverty and therefore I’m of the mind that the child should be taken care of by the state. Children are dependent upon adults to take care of them. If the parent can’t do it then the state should.
A few years ago I volunteered in a school which was in an area of great poverty. Many of the children arrived at school without breakfast in their stomachs. Others would say that they had only had a bag of chips for tea the night before. At the time we were under a Labour government and the school managed to fund a free breakfast club for all children in the school. They offered toast, fruit, yoghurt, juice, milk and cereals. It was popular and the results from that improved the results of the school. Not only that but for children who were suffering from behavioural problems became much calmer and able to learn. No child can learn properly if they are hungry. No child can develop properly if they are in starvation. No child can feel emotionally stable if their bodies are not nourished. From my volunteering experience in the school, experience that I had being raised and experience that I have as a mother. I believe as I’m sure that most people with any sort of morals do, that the basic needs of an individual need to be met. That means food. Food is vital.
Who are we to judge?
Of course during the time of money being pushed into helping our vulnerable youngsters we had a heap of people shouting up. “They get this, they get that.” We also had the introduction of “Benefit Street” programmes which I believe did more harm than good. And of course we had the bullying press who set to work on the larger families in the UK… Calling them “Scroungers” calling them for choosing a career from producing children (which if you look at the actual numbers of large families with children of 8 or more on benefits in the entire country – they are extremely low). Then of course the prejudice against single parents kicked into force – single parents who are raising a family on one income. And guess what? As a country we did a good job for falling for it. Understandably so. Wages are low. It is entirely understandable if you are working your arse off full-time and you see somebody who appears to be doing nothing. But let us get this into context here. You are working for your future, gaining experience, building up a pension pot (ok we can lol at this bit), you may even be a lucky one who has a mortgage and is comfortably affording the payments. Housing benefit is no investment. The sad reality is that people didn’t question this properly. Instead many pointed the finger at the so-called “scroungers” and failed to look at the real reason for their own short falling – which was their actual wages being low and the cost of housing too high. Benefits are a basic living for many and unfortunately working is a basic standard of living too. But cutting some bodies benefits will not make the working person any better off. Why are we not shouting for higher wages? Why instead of pointing the fingers at the vulnerable has the press not been shouting for higher wages?
Back to school meals. Should infant children get them? Well results show that children prosper better if they are fed and nourished properly. It shouldn’t be a debate but basic human rights. So children in poverty are fed? YES they should be fed. Children are the future. We give children the start in life that helps them to function so we create a better society in the long run.
Should infant children whose parents are working but have access to additional benefit have a free school lunch? YES. People who are working and on any sort of additional benefit are not millionaires. They are likely to be paying taxes and contributing to society so give them something back. After all, the rich toffs will only line their pockets with it. Give it to the children – invest in stronger and healthier children.
And if you think about it. Those free school meals could be the only decent square meal in a day if their families are reliant upon Foodbanks.
At the moment there is a fine line between those solely reliant upon the benefit system and the lower earners. The rapidly springing up Foodbanks are testament to it. Families who work are finding themselves at the Foodbank. With the cuts to tax credits which are coming into place next April – I shudder at the thought of how many more will need Foodbank assistance. Indeed last year I myself went through a month when I was completely desperate due to an unforeseen emergency and I was wondering how I was going to feed my children. I had to cry out for help, swallow my pride and ask to borrow money which after my experience of borrowed money, I hate in itself. If I wasn’t lucky enough to get some help from a friend then my children and I would have been dining courtesy of a Foodbank. Indeed by next April my two paydays away from a Foodbank will have dwindled to possibly one – the cuts are that harsh and I’ve still not heard anything about a pay increase. Foodbanks should not even be in existence. I keep thinking how the government is actually saving money there too. Foodbank volunteers and donations of food from people who don’t actually have a lot themselves. It is wrong and for most of us if we are not yet at the Foodbank we are dodging them. We are that close. But as for me I don’t blame those who are solely reliant on benefits as causing me problems. Not at all, who am I to judge their position when I’ve struggled myself and actually I am in receipt of an element just like millions of other families. Society is still cruel and underdeveloped to the plights that people face and it’s like anything. Unless you’ve experienced it yourself you are unlikely to understand. And how easy it is to actually become in that position. I spoke to a wise man once, a self made and very rich man, he said that nobody should take anything for granted and that anybody can fall. Who is anybody to judge anybody for being poor? Poverty is no crime. For me I look the other way. Why aren’t the wages higher? But I suppose that is a completely different blog in the making…