News: Churchill Fellows supporting children who are missing out on free school meals
Published: 5 May 2020
The World Food Programme and UNICEF have released a statement urging national governments to prevent devastating nutrition and health consequences for the 370 million children missing out on school meals during school closures. In the UK, Churchill Fellows are working to tackle this growing challenge to ensure that children are not going hungry and have access to healthy meals during the Covid-19 crisis. Here’s what some of them are doing.
"I am hopeful that after this crisis passes, all four government regions will look properly at putting sustainable systems in place, which will mean proper support to combat such a crisis again” - Lindsay Graham, Fellow
Policy advisor Lindsay Graham has been using learnings from her Churchill Fellowship ‘Innovative community projects that address school holiday child hunger’ to support her work with the Poverty and Inequality Commission in Scotland. Lindsay’s findings on food security and emergency food provision have informed a Covid-19 Food Security Briefing which calls on the Scottish Government to ensure meals are made available to children who are going hungry at home. Lindsay is also working with the National Community Fund Scotland to support community groups that are delivering thousands of meals to children across Scotland.
Lindsay says, “We are still learning about the best way to ensure children have access to food during lockdown. I am hopeful that after this crisis passes, all four government regions will look properly at putting sustainable systems in place, which will mean proper support to combat such a crisis again.”
Charity worker Andrew Bailie is helping to deliver up to 4,500 meals a day to people who are vulnerable, including children missing out on free school meals. Andrew works for Social Bite in Scotland, a social enterprise that operates a cafe and corporate catering business staffed by people who have been affected by homelessness. When the crisis broke out, Social Bite repurposed their entire social enterprise to create a nationwide food delivery service and have produced and distributed over 10,000 meals so far. Working with the Scottish Government, Social Bite will continue to deliver food to major children's charities, foodbanks lacking cooking facilities, and domestic violence shelters.
Andrew says, “My Churchill Fellowship is inspired by the intersection between sustainable food systems and social inclusion. Now, under lockdown, I am building on this research to conceptualise a novel national food system and working to ensure that the guarantee of a good meal brings additional resilience to families affected by the loss of free school meals.”
Headteacher Jane Pepa works at a special educational needs college in Liverpool, where around 80% of pupils receive free school meals. Through the government’s national voucher scheme, Jane has been working with her local authority to distribute vouchers to children who are eligible. Jane and her team have also prepared and delivered their own food parcels to vulnerable families, which have been warmly welcomed. As well as this, they are contacting parents daily to provide mental health support, online education, emergency funding and social care. Jane is a 2020 Churchill Fellow and will use her Fellowship to research improved outcomes for children and adults with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).
Jane says, “Feedback has been really positive from parents. It is important to pull together during this difficult time, because together we can create a better society based on the positives that have come as a result of lockdown, such as improved physical health and much more resilience.”