Jamie Oliver has campaigned hard to bring healthier meals into schools, and cutting back on sugar within kids food. This should be applauded – for obvious reasons. His latest crusade, for me, seems a step too far..
What is it?
On last Friday‘s ‘Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast‘ – Jamie set his eyes on ‘Holiday Hunger’. He explained that whilst infant children, and children whose parents are on benefits get free school meals. Come the school holidays some children go hungry, because their parents can’t afford to feed them at home.
Holiday Hunger – A solution?
His solution was, uhm interesting. Keep the school kitchens open and feed the hungry children. He explained this could be done cheaply by having staff volunteer, and using end of life food from supermarkets.
Whilst the concept is a noble one – in my opinion – it’s a bit fucking ridiculous. Our schools are stretched SO much at the moment, budgets are tight, and staff are charged with more responsibility than ever before. I think it’s a step too far to charge them with responsibility to feed their pupils in the school holidays too. Whilst he suggested how it could be staffed, and food provided – there would still have to be energy used lighting, heating, and cooking. All of this costs money, and would eat away even more at already stretched resources.
There is no denying that people struggle, and ‘Holiday Hunger’ is an issue. But it’s not the fault of schools, and the onus shouldn’t be on them to ‘fix’ it. Benefits for those who need them have been cut, and the problem is there. People can’t afford to feed their children. That is the main issue here.
Whilst the woman shown who had a household of eight to feed, but couldn’t, didn’t really garner much sympathy from me. There were others who I felt sorry for.
What can be done?
It’s hard really, it’s clear those who need benefits don’t always get them, or enough – whilst others playing the system taking everything they can. Jamie, to his credit did show an interesting idea of selling the ‘end of life’ food to people, so they can have a super cheap meal. There is a lot of wastage in supermarkets with overly cautious ‘best before’ dates. This is GOOD food that could sold at heavily discounted prices. Combined with guidance from a decent chef (Hi Jamie!) the potential to create cheap, healthy meals is there.
We can’t deny or ignore ‘Holiday Hunger’ but – we can’t ask our education system to fix it. We need every penny they have spent on teaching our children and shaping their future. It’s not their responsibility to feed our children during the school holidays – it’s ours, as parents.
We can’t ignore Holiday Hunger, but we need those in power to fix it, not those in the education system.