Children's authors sign open letter protesting outcome of school meals vote

Children's authors sign open letter protesting outcome of school meals vote

More than 200 children's authors and illustrators, including Malorie Blackman, Philip Pullman and Cressida Cowell, have signed a letter condemning the government’s vote rejecting the extension of its free school meal scheme over the holidays.

The open letter, spearheaded by children’s author Anne Booth (pictured), was published in the Guardian on Friday 23rd October and read: "Regardless of our individual personal backgrounds, political and religious positions, we all recognise the unique position children and their families have been placed in because of this pandemic, and believe that no child in this nation should go hungry this winter.

"We believe children should not have to depend on pot luck charity, and there should be official, organised government support across the nation to ensure no child experiences the insecurity of hunger as well as the stress of the pandemic."

Labour's motion, which appealed to the government to extend free school meals over the holidays to stop children going hungry, was rejected by MPs by 322 votes to 261, with a government majority of 61. Footballer Marcus Rashford has been leading the campaign and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said the party will be pushing for another vote.

Booth told the Guardian: "Caring about children is the job of authors. We want them to be happy, we visit them at school. We know hungry children can’t read or learn. I was so depressed by that vote, I can’t bear that children are going hungry. We’ve got billionaires and shell companies making money from this pandemic, and we can’t afford to feed children?"

She added: "Hungry children can’t concentrate—and so immediately you are setting them on a path for the rest of their lives. If this government are going to talk about feeding children economically, it is an investment to feed every child."

Other signatories to the letter include Shirley Hughes, Joanne Harris, Frank Cottrell-Boyce and David Almond.