Sharon Hodgson MP: Families are being priced out of having a healthy diet

Food banks are on the increase.
Food banks are on the increase.
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During her Party Conference speech earlier this month, Theresa May declared austerity over and promised better days ahead.

Despite this rhetoric, the reality remains that there will be millions of households up and down the country who will feel the pinch for a long time to come.

Amongst the chaos of Brexit negotiations, it would be easy for the Prime Minister to forget families living in poverty.

But colleagues and I are keen to ensure that the Government doesn’t forget those in need.

Under this Government’s watch, Trussell Trust foodbanks have increased from 60 to 2,009 in just eight years.

Jacob Rees-Mogg MP may think that the rise in foodbanks shows what a “good, compassionate country we are”, but in reality, the rise is attributed to years of austerity, with families around the country struggling to make ends meet.

Parents are skipping meals so that they can provide for their children, and in one particularly worrying case I have heard recently, they giving their children sugar and water to keep them hydrated and their stamina up.

You wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that stories such as these should have been banished to a Dickensian era.

It should shame this Conservative Government that this is a reality of 21st century Britain.

According to the Food Foundation, almost four million children in the UK are estimated to live in households that would struggle to afford to buy enough fruit, vegetables and other healthy foods to meet official nutritional guidelines.

That means that the poorest 20% of households would need to spend 42% of their disposable income to afford the Government’s diet guidelines.

Children and families shouldn’t be priced out of having a healthy diet and lifestyle.

That is why I campaign for Universal Free School Meals, so that children can receive a hot and healthy meal during the school day, and also support initiatives to ensure that children are fed and kept active during the school holidays.

I am also chairing an inquiry into children’s food security, because time and time again I hear from children who don’t have access to anything to eat when they’re at home, and I fundamentally believe that the Government must take action to right this wrong.

Whilst the Government’s attention is drawn to in-fighting over Brexit, they become further and further removed from the daily reality of the millions of households up and down the country who are still waiting for those better days ahead.