UN steps in to feed British children for the first time

Unicef launches emergency response for minors living in ‘food insecure households’

Powered by automated translation

The Covid-19 crisis is causing such economic hardship in Britain that the UN has for the first time stepped forward to help feed the country’s children.

The humanitarian aid agency Unicef made an emergency response for British children in a situation similar to the undernourishment experienced in the Second World War.

There are thought to be 2.4 million children in the country living in "food insecure households" after a poll commissioned this year by the Food Foundation think tank.

With significant unemployment hitting Britain after the hard economic slowdown caused by the pandemic, many households are struggling to get enough to eat, with record numbers trying to access free goods at food banks. There are also an extra 900,000 children registered for free school meals, which are available to those whose parents are unemployed.

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore delivers the inaugural speech at the South Asia Youth Skills and Solutions Forum in Mumbai on October 30, 2019. (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE / AFP)
Unicef executive director Henrietta Fore speaks about child learning as the UN charity steps forward to help hungry British children for first time ever. AFP

Now Unicef – the United Nations Children's Fund – has pledged £25,000 ($34,000) to the charity School Food Matters. The cash will provide enough food for 10 breakfasts over the Christmas period for thousands of vulnerable children and families in south London.

A further £25,000 was awarded by Unicef to Edible Edinburgh, a Scottish charity, that will pay for 12,000 meals for families at risk of food shortages

"We feel it's critical to come together at this time," said Anna Kettley, of Unicef UK. "It's the first time in which we're recognising that this is an unprecedented situation that requires everyone to roll their sleeves up, step in and support children and families that need it most at this time."

Britain has so far suffered more than 62,000 deaths and is approaching two million Covid-19 infections, with some families facing severe economic hardship and numerous reports of children going hungry.

“It was hard, I was going without food, just skipping meals and going with a sandwich or maybe a tin of food, and giving all I had to the children and going without as long as I could,” Donna Cadman, a widow with three children, told Sky News.

“Bringing up three children is hard and the school and charity really helped us a heck of a lot and I can't thank them enough for what they've done for us.”

Teachers find that children focus better in class when they are properly fed, said a headmistress at a south London school.

Unicef has worked in some of the most impoverished countries around the world for the past 70 years, feeding starving children in 190 countries.