The Christian Science Monitor : 2020-12-07

6 : 6 : 6


6 8 10 12 Britons mobilize to address child hunger in the pandemic As Native freshman enrollment drops, tribal colleges step in Russia takes a novel approach to teaching during COVID-19 In college, peers offer relief from the stresses of lockdown HUMANITY BEHIND THE HEADLINES To share these stories, go to LONDON bers the humiliatio­n of forgoing meals as a single mother working three jobs, over a decade ago. “I remember having a huge packet of crisps for dinner every night. I thought that was OK but it clearly wasn’t,” says Ms. Steere. “I lost my business at the beginning of lockdown, but if I was in that situation as a single mother on benefits still, I’d need a food bank.” Pandemic spotlights child hunger – and Britons rally to help By Shafi Musaddique / Correspond­ent businesses and volunteers are tackling the problem head- on. About 1 in 7 children in the U.K. claim free school meals, which are available to households earning under £7,400 ($9,750) a year. Charities say the low threshold means many children in slightly higher-income households, but below the U.K.’s average income of £30,800, are ineligible for state help, forcing families to survive on food banks. Hayley Steere, founder of Free-My-Meal, a national charity linking people who need food with those willing to cook it, remem- J ason Stephens remembers the hunger pains and sleepless nights following his release from jail in 2015. Unable to find work, he eventually purchased a food truck instead and sold burgers on the streets. Fast-forward to a cold night in Britain’s autumn lockdown, Mr. Stephens drives the same truck into the heart of Cardiff’s most deprived neighborho­ods, handing out a thousand hot meals to children. “I was watching everyone losing their jobs in lockdown and kids going hungry,” says the Welshman. “How can that happen in modern day Britain?” Mr. Stephens cooks and prepares food donated by Asda and Morrisons, two of Britain’s biggest supermarke­ts, before pulling up outside to deliver sausage, potato mash, and a traditiona­l roast dinner from the truck to children going hungry without their state-provisione­d school meals over the late October break. He and hundreds of other businesses are acting to remedy a Dickensian issue brought to the fore by the pandemic. More than 4 million children live in poverty in the United Kingdom. And while it is not a new problem, it is one that had been largely hidden from public view before the pandemic, when associated shortages amid lockdown brought the issue into stark relief. British food poverty organizati­on Food Foundation says some 1.4 million children reported experience­s of food insecurity over the summer holidays. But while the government has been slow to respond to the crisis, particular­ly as the threat of new midwinter shortages approach, British Celebrity shines a light The person perhaps most responsibl­e for bringing Britain’s poverty crisis to widespread public attention is Marcus Rashford, a soccer player known for his quiet, steely determinat­ion on the pitch for Manchester United. Mr. Rashford successful­ly lobbied the U.K. government to make a U-turn and extend free meal provisions for children in low-income households over the school summer holidays, when otherwise they might lose that vital food source amid the pandemic. He set up a child food poverty task force and repeated the clarion call again in October, urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to extend food provisions over the autumn and winter school break. Pressured by Mr. Rashford’s campaign, Parliament voted on the proposal, but ultimately rejected it. Although the prime minister has recently done another about-face, in the form of £170 million of extra funding for free school meals, anger and action had already spread across Britain. Some businesses opted for symbolic measures: One Yorkshire pub owner banned the local member of Parliament, Chancellor Rishi Sunak – one of the 322 MPs who voted against free school meals – from entering. But hundreds more went into action, parceling food for hungry children. “I didn’t know who [Mr. Rashford] was until I started doing this. I’m not a football fan, but my wife and mum WHY WE WROTE THIS Job losses, lockdowns, and government inaction left many children in the United Kingdom confrontin­g food insecurity. But along with outrage, the result has been a citizen outpouring of aid. ANDREW BOYERS/REUTERS INSPIRED: Alex Stephens, owner of Farm Fresh Market in Nottingham, England, offered free lunches to children after hearing about the efforts by pro soccer’s Marcus Rashford to help children gain access to food during school vacation. 6 THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR WEEKLY | DECEMBER 7, 2020 PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTE­D BY PRESSREADE­R PressReade­ +1 604 278 4604 ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY COPYRIGHT AND PROTECTED BY APPLICABLE LAW