COMMENT: Don’t take away their free meals

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A FRIEND of mine, who is a teacher in another part of the country, once told me a distressing story about how she used to take biscuits into school every morning in order to feed children she knew were not getting breakfast.

Part of the reason was because she didn’t want them to go hungry, and part was that she knew they would not be able to learn, concentrate or work on empty stomachs.

They would be better in the afternoon, she said, because at lunch time they would fill up on their free school meal.

That could all change under new benefits rules the Government is considering introducing though (Kids Could Go Hungry, front page).

If families living below the breadline are given a lump sum to pay for uniforms and meals, it doesn’t take a genius to work out what will happen in many cases.

Families living in cold conditions might use the money to pay fuel bills, those in debt could use it to pay off loans to avoid bailiffs and repossession.

This isn’t just me jumping to conclusions. I know from talking to volunteers from Spalding’s Agape Foodbank that some families have found themselves in the unenviable situation on having to choose between bills and food... and have ended up hungry.

Let’s not forget those parents who have drink or drug habits. They may use the cash to fund the addictions that have already seen them sink into a desperate situation.

Hopefully these changes to benefits will not be allowed through. If they are, kids who are surviving on one hot meal a day could have even this basic taken away from them.

WHILE I’m on the warpath against authority, I must mention the highways department at Lincolnshire County Council, which has angered many local charity organisers by taking down signs advertising their events because they might “distract motorists”. Signs that had been going up, without a problem for 40 years. I despair.