It’s brutally straightforward in pictures taken during famines across the world – children so malnourished they are often at the point of death; painfully underweight, their ribs showing as they desperately fight for breath. But here in the UK, it’s very much harder to spot, very much more difficult to convey forcefully. And for that reason, often harder to convince people it actually exists. Do children here really go hungry? Really hungry?
More than 2,500 children in London were asked to record a food diary for one school day. The children were just 6 to 8 years old so would reasonably be expected to be in the care of adults who would help provide regular meals. Yet the University of Leeds researchers found that one in 10 was eating half the calories recommended for their age – 3.5 per cent missed at least one meal a day. For many of the children the diaries were stories of missed breakfasts, meals without meat or vegetables, little snacks providing the bulk of the day’s calories.
Take one child’s entry: “A glass of water for breakfast, a piece of cake later in the day. A ham sandwich provides the main meal, crisps, chocolate biscuits and a bowl of ice cream the extras.” This child won’t starve to death. There’ll be no dramatic pictures to invoke sympathy or even intervention.
The above is taken from Channel 4 news report / article and there was a major debate on Radio 5 live on Sunday morning about this same issue. There were stories of people having to go to food banks, a single mother of 5 children saying she couldn’t afford to give them nourishing food because she could get a pack of chicken and chips from the supermarket for £1.00. No mention of shopping around for cheap fruit and vegetables and cheaper cuts of meat. Interestingly, no question was asked about where the father (or fathers) of the five children was and why he was not contributing to their upkeep……….but then this would not fit the BBCs political agenda / bias in reporting such issues.
Take the child’s entry into the diary above, what kind of parent provides their child with cake, crisps, chocolate biscuits and ice cream when fresh produce can be bought cheaply if you shop at the right places. On my local market I recently bought 4 aubergines for £1.00, a bag of 6 peppers for £1.00, 2 large cauliflowers for £1.00 and a bag of fresh apples for £1.00.
The simple fact is that children are NOT malnourished, they are just badly fed by parents who are too lazy to buy fresh produce but probably more importantly either can’t or won’t cook meals from scratch because it is easier to warm up “pre-prepared” rubbish. I recently saw packs of pre-prepared mash potato………….I mean, how bloody lazy do you have to be to not simply boil and then mash your own fresh potatoes?
There are no starving kids in the UK but there are lazy, irresponsible parents who cannot be bothered to buy the kinds of produce that would eliminate this so called “hunger” in children.
For ideas and evidence of real hunger and poverty just Google the phrase “children and hunger” and see what it comes up with………….and the two distressing photographs I have used in this article are based on my own research.