Stephen has hosted a book launch in Parliament on behalf of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG). CPAG has worked alongside researchers at UCL in putting together a study called Living Hand to Mouth: Children and Food in Low-income Families.
The book includes conversations with 51 children from low-income families in south-east England who describe their experiences of food at home, school and in social settings. The interviews, which form part of a larger European study of food poverty among children and families in Portugal, Norway and the UK, offer an insight into children’s lived experience of food poverty.
The findings also reveal how children whose families have no recourse to public funds – usually because of unresolved immigration status – are not entitled to free school meals, and that while some schools fund lunches for these children, others do not, meaning some youngsters go hungry during the day.
Alison Garnham, chief executive of CPAG, said: “The young people in this study make the case for universal free school meals more powerfully than anyone else could. They should be part of the solution but wider government action is needed – urgently – to eradicate the poverty that underlies children’s hunger. As a minimum, free school meals should be restored for all families on Universal Credit.”
Speaking about the report, Stephen said: “One of the really powerful features of this report is the voices of children themselves. We need it to be well-known just how hard many children are finding life at the moment so that politicians grasp the importance of changing tack to address the problems.
“Figures published last week showed that 4.1 million children were living below the poverty line. One of the factors driving the problem is Universal Credit. I have raised this time and time again with Ministers but they are yet to listen.”