I have to admit, Welsh government policies generally are not in my peripheries. But I have been doing a lot of reading recently on child poverty and how the recent pandemic has affected food insecurity in the UK.
For instance, Scottish Government figures published earlier this year reveal that 26% of children in Scotland were in poverty in 2019-20, up from 23% the previous year.
Whereas, according to Loughborough University...
Even before the pandemic, 4.3 million children were living in poverty, up 200,000 from the previous year – and up 500,000 over the past five years.
North East England shows the greatest growth in child poverty over the past five years and has risen by more than a third, taking it from below the UK average to the second-highest of any region.
Highest rates of child poverty continue to be in major cities – particularly London and Birmingham.
Three quarters (75%) of children living in poverty in 2019/20 were in households with at least one working adult; up from two thirds (67%) in 2014/15.
Original Source (https://www.lboro.ac.uk)
If we look at the world as a whole,
One-third of the world’s 700m children under five suffers malnutrition. Some 149m still suffer from nutritional stunting, 50m from wasting or acute malnutrition, while 40m are overweight.
Original Source (https://www.ft.com)
This to me seems completely absurd in a world where some of the world's richest men are spending their millions on a space race to see who can fly 6 miles. Where, we have so many billionaires that if they were so inclined could eradicate world poverty without causing any of them to lose their "Billionaire" title.
As the Nation Cymru article quotes, as recently as February this year the Welsh government stated;
“It is unacceptable in a modern society that children still go hungry.”
So why is this still a problem when according to the GOV.UK website.
"Meals should be available free of charge to: all infant pupils" and "pupils who meet the benefits-related free school meals eligibility criteria".
Original Source (https://www.gov.uk)
Well... as the Nation Cymru article goes on to say;
Back in October of last year, the Child Poverty Action Group found that over half of children in Wales who live below the UK poverty line are not entitled to free school meals – that’s over 70,000 children.
It’s not that they don’t think it’s worthwhile. Indeed, their own [Welsh Government] review into child poverty found that “while the Free Breakfast Scheme is welcomed, and evidence shows the strong link between eating a healthy breakfast and educational attainment, there are concerns that many children in need aren’t benefitting from this scheme.”
Photos of free school meal packages in the UK spark outrage online
When it is known that child food insecurity not only affects the immediate health of the child, it has also been shown to cause anxiety and depression later on in life.
These children can become isolated from their friends, have low self esteem, and are often bullied by their peers.
They generally obtain lower grades due to missed school days, and feel like they have to work twice as hard to gain the same success as richer children.
As children grow up they often have to work part-time jobs and are more likely to be involved in crime to help put food on the table.
Good nutrition is not just the key to physical health but also mental and social health, and it is vital for the future of the human race to turn these inequalities around.
Link to Original article (https://nation.cymru)