Emma Thompson Vows to End “Holiday Hunger” Across the UK
It is well known that Harry Potter was not fed well by the Dursleys while he lived on Privet Drive. In fact, it was only once he arrived Hogwarts that the growing boy was able to access the adequate, healthy, and regular meals that every student needs in order to learn at their fullest potential. Unfortunately, Harry’s case will resonate with an estimated 4 million young people across the United Kingdom who find themselves without access to adequate food simply because it’s the school holidays.
For many of these schoolchildren, meals provided by their school are their only regular source of food, which means that the school holidays actually cause students to lose access to this vital resource. In response to the crisis, Dame Emma Thompson (Professor Trelawney) has taken up the cause and vowed to work on the campaign to end “holiday hunger.”
Thompson was first made aware of this issue after watching a documentary made about the work of Lindsay Graham, a long-standing food-poverty activist, whose work campaigning on the issue was featured. After a further appearance on the BBC show The One Show alongside Graham, Thompson was struck by the plight of the affected schoolchildren and joined the campaign.
Thompson is aware that her life has held many advantages, but she isn’t blind to the realities of life for many of these students. Her own family has worked on similar cases, meaning that such stories are close to home.
I may have lived an incredibly privileged life, but I am not daft. I know a lot of teachers who have bought food to feed pupils. A cousin worked as a youth worker in a school in Guildford. She would not do it any more because she was too distressed by the sight of the young people coming in not having eaten. It can make them crazed at times.
Thompson will be present during the handing over of a five-point charter for change to MPs at Church House in Westminster on April 25. Crucially, the charter is written by young people for young people and it directly speaks as to how to solve some of the food security issues facing schoolchildren. The five points covered are to provide free meals in nurseries, to provide holiday food vouchers, for a watchdog to be established to ensure high-quality school meals, to set taxes on fast-food shops set up near school gates, and to increase the free school meal allowance to an average of £4 a day.
One of the main issues within the campaign is ensuring that the schoolchildren have access to healthy meals. As Thompson explains, lack of access to food itself often isn’t the issue, but instead, it’s that many children are forced to rely on unhealthier, cheaper alternatives that deny themselves of the vital nutrients they need.
The statistics from the Food Foundation are that 25-30% of kids in our country — that’s 2.5m to 4m kids — are eating substandard diets. They are eating cheap junk food that is making them ill. Some children are suffering from a kind of obesity that is also malnutrition.
In her work with the campaign, Thompson took part in a short film to be aired on The One Show in which she visits “hunger clubs” to help cook a curry alongside the children who rely on its services. “Hunger clubs” are open after school or during the holidays and provide children with a safe space to learn and play alongside providing hot, healthy meals that are perfect for developing minds.
You can find out more about this important cause here.