Listening to the radio this morning, the above question jumped into my head. I have my solution at the end of this post. What would be your thoughts?
Time for us all to have an uncomfortable conversation maybe?
The radio feature was on free school meals and the excellent spotlight the footballer Marcus Rashford has shone on this.
Children going hungry is shamefully not a new problem for the UK. Following the end of WWII, free school meals were introduced to ensure no child went hungry. Bearing in mind this was a time when food additives, were a lot less intensive than they are now. Basic, nutritional food that ensured healthy growth for all children in the UK was the norm.
Over the following years, we seemed to lose this ‘collective’ thinking that we are all responsible for the health of the next generation.
I well remember the endeavours of chef Jamie Oliver from 2004 to address putting ‘nutrition’ back into school dinners cost effectively. This would ensure concentration in lessons resulting ultimately in social mobility. Education on an empty stomach is totally non-productive and a complete waste of money. Children can’t concentrate with their stomachs rumbling. As adults, we know when we’re hungry we can think of nothing else. Why would we think it’s different for children?
The radio feature this morning spoke about Jamie’s work and the fact two of his chefs are working in Schools in Greenwich to help feed children nutritionally during school holidays.
Marcus has re-foccused the spotlight back on the need to feed vulnerable children during school holidays as parents struggle through coronavirus.
Many parents will feed their children fast foods because they are cheap. Quantity is better than quality thinking. We know fresh food doesn’t have to be expensive. It does take effort to buy and prepare especially when trying to hold down a number of poorly paid jobs to provide a secure home.
A few of ideas spring to my mind:
- Tax cheap, fast food so it becomes a ‘treat’ and heavily discount fresh foods so they become the norm.
- I know from experience many families won’t apply for help even when they are entitled. Pride gets in the way. Radical thought here – provide free school meals for every child so not one child is ‘singled’ out as being ‘poor’. From 5-18. Schools become community hubs. Open through school holidays. This would create:
a. Employment throughout the UK
b. Community cohesion
c. Brain power amongst all our children to take advantage of education, realise their dreams, become the innovators of tomorrow, feeding our businesses making the UK a vibrant country of integrity for all.
Of course there would be a huge cost for this. But, what is the cost of not doing it?
As a business owner, I’d be in favour of increased taxes if they were going to this worthwhile cause. I wonder if very wealthy people, would be willing to make annual donations to this cause and write this off against their taxes? Some people earn telephone number salaries and are reluctant to pay HMRC. No one likes paying taxes. But if part of their taxes went to a specific cause like this, would their attitude change if they could see the good they are doing?
A minority of the UK are living in a bubble where they have so much money they will never be able to spend it. Maybe social taxation could be the answer.
Maybe it’s time to do something radical and something different.
What would be your thoughts?