This week, schools across the country will be on the half-term break. For many children, this will be a chance to recharge their batteries after a demanding return to school this September.
But not for all, because there will be children – over a million children – who will worry about where their next meal is coming from; children going to bed hungry.
That is why I was so disgusted last week when the Tories voted en masse to refuse to fund one meal per day for one week to help families hard-hit by the fallout from this pandemic.
As the union that represents school meals workers we know how much these great people care about the welfare of the children they feed daily. We know because they tell us regularly. And I know that each and every one of them will be appalled by what transpired at last week’s vote and some of the awful justifications put forward by some Tory MPs since.
It has been truly heartwarming in the last few days to see the response of charities, some local authorities and food businesses in stepping up to do what our government should be doing.
But while welcome, it should not be left to charity from individuals and organisations to put food in children’s mouths; while welcome, it means that some children will inevitably fall through the net. A planned response, designed to make sure that everyone who needs a meal gets one, is the only fair response.
UNISON has never stopped fighting for fairness – particularly for the most vulnerable – and we never will. We call upon the government to reverse its immoral stance and to help families most in need to feed their children.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has told us that he will not be able to save every job or every business – his party could have saved the children of those who have lost their jobs and their businesses from going hungry.