Children’s Future Food Inquiry

MQT on 2019-05-16
Session date: 
May 16, 2019
Question By: 
Fiona Twycross
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


I attended the Children’s Future Food Inquiry recently and it was really heart-breaking to hear children’s accounts of being constantly hungry. What impact does food insecurity have on children and young people’s life chances in London?


Answer for Children’s Future Food Inquiry

Answer for Children’s Future Food Inquiry

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you, Chair, and thank you, Dr Sahota [AM], for asking Fiona Twycross’s question.


The Children’s Future Food Inquiry highlighted some of the devastating consequences of food insecurity at a national scale.  Over 4 million children are living in poverty in the UK, many of them in households that are unable to afford enough food let alone a balanced and healthy diet.  The powerful and moving testimonies to the Inquiry from young food ambassadors from across the country showed that food insecurity affects behaviour, mental and emotional wellbeing and academic attainment.  In London the latest figures show that Trussell Trust food banks handed out emergency food parcels to almost 60,000 children alone last year [2018].  It is an unacceptable situation compounded by the impacts of welfare reforms, the freeze to working age benefits and employers failing to pay their staff the London Living Wage.  It has a profound impact on our children and young people’s social mobility, as evaluation findings from the Kitchen Social programme have shown, which we have supported to deliver healthy meals and holiday activities to children at risk of hunger during the school holidays.


Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor, for that answer.  You will know that the Inquiry advocated a Right to Food Charter and I am asking you: would you please back that call for a Food Charter?  Would you write to the Government asking them to implement the independent food watchdog so that we can take a lead on this one and make sure the Government is keeping an eye on what is happened with children’s food poverty?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Yes.  The Assembly Member will be pleased to know that my London Food Board consists of members who directly contributed to the Children’s Future Food Inquiry report.  I will continue to work with board members to ensure we act upon the relevant recommendations in London.


Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  The other thing, Mr Mayor, of course, is that the Inquiry has found 15 young food ambassadors.  These are young people who voice the concerns of children right across London and the UK.  They have inspiring stories to share and inspiring experiences to share.  Would you please be prepared to meet them as Mayor of London?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Yes, my team are more than happy to and I have already at the launch of the report and I listened to the testimony of some of these young food ambassadors.  I will make sure that my team continues to work not just with the young food ambassadors but the other partners doing really important work in this area.


Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  Also, you know that school meals are very important for the education of children.  There are children’s hub children who do not have access to Government public funds but they are exempted from free school meals.  There is a very strong argument for universal free school meals.  Would you please advocate this to the Government that they should make these available right across London?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Absolutely.  For those who do not have recourse to public funds, that means they are not entitled to free school meals.  The good news is that my London Food Strategy includes a commitment to work with partners to lobby the Government to provide universal free school meals for all.  It is really important.


Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.