The founder of a school breakfasts charity chosen as one of Downing Street’s two official causes for 2013 has promised to use the position to educate ministers about the true scale of childhood hunger in the UK. This is from the Guardian…
Carmel McConnell, chief executive of Magic Breakfast, which provides free, healthy breakfasts to pupils in 200 primary schools but has a waiting list of 140 more, said she planned to request one-on-one chats with Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, and Michael Gove, the education secretary, to impress on them that hunger among children was not restricted to feckless or workshy families.
The charity was named along with Friends of the Elderly as Downing Street’s official charity partners for next year, a selection made by No 10 staff.
McConnell – who stressed her comments were not party political and complained that Labour largely ignored the issue while in office – said: “The feckless parent argument is noise. I don’t see the data behind it at all. I’ve asked as part of this partnership to have a one-to-one with Iain Duncan Smith and a one-to-one with Michael Gove to say: ‘can we make the case for children being fed at breakfast time?’ I think Number 10 have taken a bit of a chance on us, to be honest. We are genuinely challenging.”
Demand for the charity’s services had “gone through the roof”, McConnell said. “It’s getting much worse and that’s directly related to the shakedown of jobs that’s come out of the recession. We make the point everywhere that the majority of parents we’re helping are new poor.
“When I talked to mums who say: ‘I’ve never had my child crying from hunger before’, that breaks your bloody heart. I know how to run a campaign. But my heart is broken every week.”
McConnell said she hoped the Downing Street connection would assist with bringing in donors: “I’m hoping it will bring some business leaders to us, people like the supermarket giants. It will give us a bit more credibility with them.”