Call for free school meals to stop Blackburn's children going hungry

This Is Lancashire: Call for free school meals to stop Blackburn children going hungry Call for free school meals to stop Blackburn children going hungry

A £1.3 MILLION a year scheme providing free breakfasts for primary children in Blackpool has given the borough one of the lowest figures for underweight youngsters in the North West.

Normally whenever statistics about deprivation are released, the seaside borough is as bad or worse than its counterpart in Blackburn with Darwen.

Academic researchers believe that the free breakfast scheme is helping ensure that Blackpool’s primary school children are properly fed.

Now shocked Sunnyhurst Labour councillor Pete Hollings wants Blackburn with Darwen’s executive board to look at bringing the scheme into the borough.

Just 0.9 per cent of Blackpool’s 11-year-olds are classed as under-weight, only marginally worse than affluent Ribble Valley at 0.6 per cent and a stark contrast to Blackburn with Darwen’s 3.5 per cent.

Most primary schools in Blackburn with Darwen run cheap breakfast clubs for their pupils. One example is at Our Lady’s Primary School, Holmbrook Close, Ewood, which feeds more than 65 pupils with free or subsidised breakfasts with help from charity Children in Need.

Coun Hollings said: “These are shocking figures. As a council we have not considered a free breakfast scheme for all primary school pupils. Perhaps now is the time to take a look at it. I will be contacting the executive members for schools and health Dave Harling and Mohammed Khan to ask the to examine whether this would help with this problem in view of the high levels of child poverty in the borough.”

In the borough 24 per cent of children receive free school meals, with Burnley at 27 per cent having a higher figure.

Elsewhere in East Lancashire the figures are 22 per cent for Hyndburn, Rossendale 19 per cent, Pendle 18 per cent and Ribble Valley six per cent.

In Blackburn with Darwen, 17 schools had more than a third of children claiming free dinners in 2012/2013.

All Blackpool primary children are entitled to free breakfast and milk under its scheme to improve their health.

More than 11,000 breakfasts are delivered daily in 33 schools, with children choosing a drink and two items from a selection of in the main, malt loaf, bagels (plain and cinnamon) fruit, chopped fruit, raisins, yoghurt and smoothies. Some schools have toast and cereal on certain days.

The impact of the scheme has been evaluated by a team of Northumbria University experts.

Their assessment of an initial pilot resulted in the council authorising the scheme, which costs £1.3m a year from its public health budget, being approved to continue until further notice.

Comments (5)

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11:22am Tue 1 Apr 14

shytalk says...

Ouch the Tories won't want to see children from poor backgrounds being fed properly.
Ouch the Tories won't want to see children from poor backgrounds being fed properly. shytalk
  • Score: 2

11:43am Tue 1 Apr 14

karltop says...

And who pays for these "free" meals?
And who pays for these "free" meals? karltop
  • Score: 7

4:58pm Tue 1 Apr 14

Timefor says...

Just for once, hows about treating a cause rather than a symptom?
Just for once, hows about treating a cause rather than a symptom? Timefor
  • Score: 5

7:17pm Tue 1 Apr 14

M.DANNY says...

I am calling on UN to send food parcels in Lancashire towns like Blackpool Blackburn, Burnley ,Accrington and Bacup, cause our children are hungry ?
Our benefit are so generous that people from Eastern Europe are coming here for food and shelter and yet our kids are hungry ?
Money for fags beer satellite tvs Apple iphones but no money for food ?
I am calling on UN to send food parcels in Lancashire towns like Blackpool Blackburn, Burnley ,Accrington and Bacup, cause our children are hungry ? Our benefit are so generous that people from Eastern Europe are coming here for food and shelter and yet our kids are hungry ? Money for fags beer satellite tvs Apple iphones but no money for food ? M.DANNY
  • Score: 3

7:33am Wed 2 Apr 14

BuckoTheMoose says...

Sorry Councillor Pete, but these meals are not free. We all have to pay for them, even people with no children.

This is not a society problem, it's a parental problem, and not one where the council or government has any business getting involved using other peoples money.

Besides, the problem probably isn't that big. The original report said they had tested year 6 pupils in the borough, found 66 underweight ones and then extrapolated that figure across all the children in the borough.

That and the BMI system they use to test weight leaves the figures in a lot of doubt. Maybe you should find out the truth before giving a knee jerk reaction to a local newspaper bleat and offering to throw our money at the 'problem'.
Sorry Councillor Pete, but these meals are not free. We all have to pay for them, even people with no children. This is not a society problem, it's a parental problem, and not one where the council or government has any business getting involved using other peoples money. Besides, the problem probably isn't that big. The original report said they had tested year 6 pupils in the borough, found 66 underweight ones and then extrapolated that figure across all the children in the borough. That and the BMI system they use to test weight leaves the figures in a lot of doubt. Maybe you should find out the truth before giving a knee jerk reaction to a local newspaper bleat and offering to throw our money at the 'problem'. BuckoTheMoose
  • Score: 3

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