What makes news isn’t always ‘new’, is it? Take our survey of professionals working with kids, out today in the Daily Mirror.
What we found was deeply saddening: professionals reporting to be giving children money for food because they fear they’re going hungry at home. School staff reporting that the quality of food they see in lunchboxes has got worse in the last two years. Well over a third of our respondents saying they work with children who aren’t getting enough to eat every single day.
But this isn’t a ‘new’ story. Our survey’s by no means the first to collect these sorts of views and data in recent months, and it certainly won’t be the last. Headline after headline has told of children turning up at school hungry, experts have talked about the threat of malnutrition for children’s health, education and development; and some fantastic campaigns and initiatives have done a sterling job in flagging the issues, making the arguments and pressing for action.
What’s most terrifying is that this can become background noise. If we read about the growing prevalence of hungry children and hungry families here in the UK often enough, does it somehow become accepted as too big to tackle; a fact that we can’t change?
We wanted to run our survey as a reminder of the context for the debates we’ll be having at our Children’s Food Conference. What will I be saying? If we really want to get serious about reducing the number of children who spend their lives hungry, we need to invest in the things that help those who work with them. Local authorities should be using their new public health responsibilities as a lever, devoting some of their funding for public health to improving children’s nutrition. There are all sorts of ways they can do this, and the approach that’s best in each area may well look quite different. But that explicit commitment would be a step in the right direction.
Linda’s our Director of Delivery and Chief Executive-designate.