Sunday People


Bake Off’s Prue demands


EXCLUSIVE BY SASKIA ROWLANDS PRUE Leith yesterday led calls for the Government to give every child on Universal Credit a free school breakfast.

The Bake Off judge and celebrity chef hit out as a survey revealed four million hard-up kids – 39% of the school population – turn up for lessons hungry but just one in five has access to a breakfast club.

Dame Prue – whose son is the Tory MP for Devizes in Wiltshire – branded the Government’s lack of action “a disgrace” and said no youngster should be forced to skip the most important meal of the day. She also told how trying to save money by not feeding them is just cooking up trouble for the future.

Prue said: “It’s not only a disgrace, it’s a false economy – let’s at least give them a chance of becoming productive citizens one day. I cannot believe government after government don’t see that free school food, at least for anyone on Universal Credit, would be money well spent.”

More than 10,000 schools in England have high numbers of vulnerable kids but only a quarter offer free breakfasts.

It would take £18million to roll out the service across 2,500 more classrooms.

Prue’s breakfast call was backed by fellow celebrity chef Tom Kerridge, who also hit out at Rishi Sunak’s regime.

Michelin-starred Tom, 50, said: “How is it possible in the UK, in 2023, to have a situation as bleak as four million children arriving at school hungry?

“These are our children and our future and it’s an absolute disgrace that the Government isn’t doing more to address this issue. We need to put the pressure on now because the situation could not be any worse.” Mum-of-two Shireen Hussein, 35, is among the parents struggling to put food on the table for her two children.

Shireen, of Warrington Cheshire, said: “I have to use a local cut-price essentials service to get access to lower cost, nutri

tious food. How are children supposed to face the school day on an empty stomach? No child should ever – and I mean ever – have to face these feelings.”

Another hard-up mum said: “Sending my daughter to a breakfast club is not an option for me, financiall­y.

“I struggle to pay the bills let alone another added purchase.” Teacher Lucy Norman witnesses the impact of breakfast poverty first-hand at the North London primary school where she works.

She said: “The sad reality of being a teacher is seeing children starting at a disadvanta­ge because they’re hungry, which immediatel­y impacts their ability to learn.

“I have unfortunat­ely seen the result of this.

“Children who are hungry are often less able to concentrat­e and keep engaged in lessons, which has knock-on effects on their learning developmen­t.

“Free breakfast clubs help close the gap and give all kids a fair chance to succeed so the more we can do to make them widely available, the better.”

Labour’s Emma Lewell-buck said the latest figures prove that Tory ministers don’t care about child poverty.

The MP for South Shields, who heads up the Child of the North campaign to tackle child inequality, said: “Hungry children – no matter how bright they are and how dedicated their teachers are – don’t learn.

“There is simply no justificat­ion and no argument robust enough to deny children a breakfast. The only reason the Government does so is because hungry children never have, and never will, matter to them.”

How are children supposed to face the school day on empty stomachs? No child should ever – and I mean never – have to face these feelings

 ?? ?? FURY Prue blasts Tories
FURY Prue blasts Tories STRUGGLING Mum Shireen
 ?? ?? CALL FOR ACTION Chef Tom Kerridge
CALL FOR ACTION Chef Tom Kerridge

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