Unicef for the first time in its history to has launched a domestic emergency response in the UK help feed children hit by the Covid-19 crisis. Unicef said the coronavirus pandemic was the most urgent crisis affecting children since the second world war.
In May the charity Food Foundation found 2.4 million children (17%) were living in food insecure households. By October, an extra 900,000 children had been registered for free school meals.
Anna Kettley, the director of programmes at Unicef UK, said: “This is Unicef’s first ever emergency response within the UK, introduced to tackle the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus crisis and reach the families most in need. This funding will help build stronger communities as the impact of the pandemics worsen, but ultimately a longer-term solution is needed to tackle the root causes of food poverty, so no child is left to go hungry.”
Unicef has pledged a grant of £25,000 to the community project School Food Matters, which will use the money to supply 18,000 nutritious breakfasts to 25 schools over the two-week Christmas holidays and February half-term, feeding vulnerable children and families in Southwark, south London, who have been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The food delivery firm Abel & Cole will also provide 1.2 tonnes of fruit and veg worth £4,500 to include in the boxes.
The founder and chief executive of School Food Matters, Stephanie Slater, said: “We’re so grateful to Unicef for providing this timely funding. The response to our summer breakfast boxes programme has shown us that families are really struggling and many were facing the grim reality of a two-week winter break without access to free school meals and the indignity of having to rely on food banks to feed their children. By providing our breakfast boxes, families know that their children will have a great start to the day with a healthy nutritious breakfast. Our breakfast boxes programme has also shown us that the threshold for free school meal eligibility is too low to capture all the families in need of support..."