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UNICEF to provide support feeding Southwark children despite Conservative protests

18 December 2020
Councillors responded today to comments by Jacob Rees-Mogg MP that UNICEF was ‘playing politics’ by funding an initiative to deliver Breakfast Boxes to children in the most deprived parts of Southwark via the organisation School Food Matters. The scheme is part of a wider push by Southwark Council to eradicate child food poverty in the borough, which includes: universal free school meals for every nursery child and primary school pupil, running a holiday food and activities programme in partnership with Lambeth during the school holidays, and funding multiple food banks in the area.

According to the Trussell Trust, food bank use in the UK has increased by 74% over the past five years under the current Conservative government. This funding from UNICEF represents the first time in the charity’s 70-year history that they have developed a UK domestic emergency response.

Cllr Jasmine Ali, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools said:

‘It’s a complete disgrace that Jacob Ree-Mogg has called feeding hungry children during the pandemic a “political stunt”. Southwark has done all it can to keep children out of food poverty, including standing by our flagship policy of universal free school meals despite severe funding cuts from the government, and funding free school meals during the October half term when the Conservatives cruelly voted against it. There is no such thing as too much effort when tackling child food poverty is concerned -- which is why we are grateful to UNICEF for funding the project School Food Matters in our borough.’

Cllr Kieron Williams, Leader of the Council, said:

‘It is outrageous, when the Conservatives are driving austerity and creating the conditions where child food poverty is rife, to then criticise the voluntary sector when they step in to support children. The government have failed to stop children from going hungry, and yet again local authorities and charities are having to fill the gap – to criticise us for doing so is a new low’. 


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