UK child food poverty concern

Concerns for UK child poverty, Councillor Jacqueline Owen, GMB union member.

25 August 2020

Concerns for UK child poverty, Councillor Jacqueline Owen, GMB union member.

Food glorious food…

That catchy tune from the musical version of Dickens ‘Oliver’, how sad that for many children in 2020 Britain they still face daily hunger in one of the richest countries in the developed world.

According to ‘The Guardian,’ in England ‘Almost 2,500 children have been admitted to hospital with malnutrition in the first six months of the year – double the number over the same period last year – prompting fresh concern that families are struggling to afford to feed themselves and that the pandemic has intensified the problem’.12 Jul 2020

As schools prepare to return in September, with COVID-19 social distancing Guidance in place I’ve been wondering what lunch times will look like and what will be on the menus in High schools; especially for those students entitled to Free School Meals (FSM) and those whose only cooked meal is the one they have in school. A packed lunch, containing a sandwich, bag of crisps and a piece of fruit doesn’t sound good enough to me or to Food Active, an organisation supported by the North West Directors of Public Health.

They report ‘that only 1 in a 100 packed lunches meet the national school food standards with 82% containing unhealthy snacks, 60% having crisps in them and 61% sweetened drinks’.

In my role as a Councillor I am looking at ways to support those with low incomes to provide themselves and their families with affordable and nutritious food. In Longdendale we’re fortunate enough to have ‘The Bread and Butter Thing’ a Manchester based charity, which offers deeply discounted food to help those on a low income, recently a Community Kitchen, providing low cost ready-made meals has been set up with partners, we also run Holiday Kitchens for local children and have a very proactive Foodbank to support those in emergency need.

If any members would like to share their views, experiences of food poverty and any projects or ideas of how to support people living in food poverty I’d love to hear about them.

I’m also keen to hear from those of you working in school catering about how the nutritional needs of our young people will be met in the winter term.

Email me at

Cllr. Jacqueline Owen

GMB Member

GMB North West & Irish Region