Fears over Yorkshire pupils coming to school hungry

ALMOST half of teachers surveyed in the region have brought food in to school for children who they fear have not had any breakfast in the morning, according to a shocking new survey.

Rising numbers of children are going to school hungry due to a lack of money and interest from parents in providing a decent breakfast, research suggests.

A poll published today claims that 47 per cent of teachers said they have done this in Yorkshire - higher than anywhere else in the country.

Nationally 30 per cent of teachers said they had brought in food for pupils they feared would be hungry.

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More than half of those questioned in Yorkshire - 54 per cent - said they believed there were children at their school who do not eat a lunch regularly - at least once a week.

And one-in-five said they had seen an increase in the number of children who were arriving hungry compared with this time last year.

The survey by YouGov questioned almost 900 teachers, including 81 in Yorkshire.

It comes as all but a handful of schools in Hull have agreed to slash prices for meals for primary school children to 50p in a bid to tackle an “epidemic of obesity”.

Meals for seven to 11-year-olds in the city are now believed to be the cheapest in the country.

Hull Council decided to increase its subsidy to tackle rising obesity among youngsters in a city where a third of children aged ten and 11 are overweight or obese.

It is hoped an extra five to seven per cent of youngsters will have meals instead of packed lunches following the price cut.

Coun Colin Inglis, the health and social wellbeing board’s chairman, said the subsidy would save thousands of working families £120 a year.

He said: “A nutritionally balanced and healthy meal is important to help reduce the epidemic of obesity and reducing the price of school meals will impact on the marginal poverty which many families in Hull are facing.”

“The primary impact will be on people on a minimum wage who are struggling to survive on the money they earn.”

The £577,000 funding came from a £2m underspend in the board’s budget, which also paid for improvements to kitchens and training.

Coun Rosie Nicola added: “Evidence suggests that a nutritionally balanced lunchtime meal increases attendance and attainment and has significant health benefits.

“The introduction of 50p meals in our schools means children can have a healthy lunch which we know helps them to fulfil their learning potential.”

However headteacher of Victoria Dock Primary School Denham Kite, one of three schools to choose not to go for a price cut, said it would cost them around £8,000 from their budget which they did not have. Their meals cost £1.70, but 200 out of 300 children ate in and parents were “quite happy” with the quality and cost.