Leading article

No child should be going hungry in this day and age

Marcus Rashford has made a huge contribution to the wellbeing of disadvantaged children, however it should not have taken the intervention of a sports star for the government to ensure kids do not go hungry over the summer.

The premiership footballer has performed a valuable public service by highlighting the issue of free school meals and the gap that exists when schools are on holiday.

The problem of food poverty has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, with thousands of people left without work or on reduced wages, having to apply for universal credit and generally struggling to make ends meet.

In such circumstances, as families try to stretch their very limited income to cover essential bills, it is the food shop that often gets hit first.

For many of us, it is unthinkable that some parents and their children are being forced to skip meals and have little or nothing in their cupboards.

Yet, we only have to listen to the accounts of those running food banks who paint a disturbing picture of ever increasing demand.

These organisations do an incredible job but the fact that families are relying on charity and voluntary groups for food in the 21st century is quite shocking.

Boris Johnson has performed a U-turn on providing food vouchers for kids over the summer but it should not have to take a high profile footballer to effectively shame the government into doing what is right.

Not for the first time, Mr Johnson's administration has been exposed as tone deaf, out of touch and lacking understanding of the real world problems affecting many citizens.

The Scotland and Wales devolved administrations were ahead of Mr Johnson on this matter and Stormont is now catching up, with efforts being made to find the money needed.

There were suggestions yesterday that Westminster might provide additional funding, which would be very welcome.

Hopefully, the cash will be found but Marcus Rashford has made it clear that government needs to go further, pointing out that poverty is a year-round problem.

He is absolutely right and the reality is that the need for healthy, nutritious food does not disappear as soon as the term ends and the school gates shut.

A number of local political representatives have called for so-called 'holiday hunger' to be properly addressed and this needs to be made a priority for government.

No child should be going hungry in this day and age.

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Leading article