An increasing number of children are going to school hungry and underweight, according to the results of a major new study.
The report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger found more than in five children are arriving at school without having enough to eat, with a free school meal often the only hot food they’ll eat all day.
It also reported an increase in the number of infants and pregnant mothers who are anaemic.
The MPs are calling on the Government to increase the take-up of Healthy Start vouchers, warning a quarter of poorer families are failing to access them.
Chairman of the group, Frank Field, said: ‘Something very troubling is happening and there are at least two forces operating. One is the breakdown in parenting, and the second is an increase in the numbers on a low income.
‘It’s a tragedy if one of these strikes a child, but it’s an unbounded horror if a child is hit by both. How can the world’s fifth richest nation not know the extent of physical damage caused to its own children by a lack of food?’