A new London Assembly survey on food poverty today reveals that many of the capital’s teachers say large numbers of pupils are starting the day without breakfast – and half say it’s because families cannot afford it.
As part of an investigation into food poverty, the Assembly’s Health and Environment Committee surveyed 164 heads, teachers and other staff from primary and secondary schools across the capital to establish the scale and impact of hunger among school children.
Over three quarters (77.1%) of respondents said they personally had taken action to help pupils who are going hungry – and of those, 61 per cent said they had given food to pupils at their own expense.
Key findings include:
- 18.8 per cent of teachers said between 11 and 15 pupils in each class went without breakfast. Overall more than 95 per cent of teachers said some pupils in their class are starting the day without breakfast.
- 50.7 per cent of teachers said families could not afford to provide breakfast.
- Just under one in five respondents (19%) gave food to pupils regularly (1-4 times a month).
- 97.2 per cent of those surveyed said going to school hungry impacted negatively on pupils’ concentration.
Fiona Twycross AM, who is leading the investigation, said
“As the weather gets colder and Londoners prepare for their festive feasts, I think most people will share my concern about the shocking numbers of children going hungry across the capital.
“Thank goodness for caring teachers who pay for food for hungry pupils out of their own pockets – although it is scandalous that they have to in this day and age. What worries me even more is what is happening during the school holidays when this extra help isn't available.
“During our investigation, we’ve heard about a growing demand for food banks, breakfast clubs and free school meals, especially as the economic downturn takes effect. With figures showing more than a third of London’s children live in poverty, the recommendations in our forthcoming report - aimed at lifting London families out of food poverty - are particularly important.”
The Committee’s investigation is looking at the scale and health implications of food poverty, existing emergency support for people already in need, as well as broader measures to address the risk factors for food poverty. A report will be published early next year.
Notes for editors:
- Read some of the key findings from the survey results, or see more about the investigation.
- The Department of Health defines food poverty as “the inability to afford, or to have access to, food to make up a healthy diet.”
- See figures from London’s poverty profile
- The terms of reference for the investigation are:
- To investigate the scale and causes of food poverty in London.
- To consider what the Mayor and partners can do to support people suffering food poverty in London.
- To consider what the Mayor and partners can do to address the risk factors of food poverty.
5. Fiona Twycross AM, Member of the Health and Environment Committee, is available for interview. See contact details below.
6. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.
For more details, please contact Lisa Moore in the Assembly Media Office on 020 7983 4228/4283. For out of hours media enquiries please call 0207 983 4000 and ask for the Assembly duty press officer. Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit, Greater London Authority, on 020 7983 4100.