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Malnourished children are taking food from school bins to stifle hunger, headteacher says

The Independent logo The Independent 11/01/2019 Eleanor Busby
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Malnourished children are arriving at school so hungry that they are taking food out of the bins, a headteacher says.

Siobhan Collingwood, headteacher of Morecambe Bay Primary School, in Lancashire, said one in 10 of its pupils came from families using foodbanks.

When children are food deprived it alters their behaviour and they do become quite food obsessed, so we have some children who will be stealing fruit cores from the bins,” the headteacher said.

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Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Ms Collingwood said: “We have children who have nothing in their lunch boxes and children who are just fixated upon food."

The headteacher added that there were currently 35 children at her school whose families are supported by foodbanks, adding: "It's probably higher because they are the ones we know about."

Earlier this week, the Environmental Audit Committee highlighted 2017 Unicef figures showing 19 per cent of children under 15 in the UK live with adults who struggle to buy food.

Ms Collingwood said the hunger facing pupils was "heartbreaking" and added that she had seen parents arrive at school and burst into tears, saying they have no means of feeding their children.

"Families are coming in telling me they are routinely loaning food to each other, my day-to-day experience is telling me this is a growing problem,” she said.

Ms Collingwood said she had noticed more problems since the introduction of universal credit.

Her comments came after a cross-party group of MPs called on the government to appoint a “minister for hunger” to tackle "food insecurity" - especially among young children.

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A Department of Work and Pensions spokesperson said that one million people had been lifted out of absolute poverty since 2010 - including 300,000 children.

They added: "We already provide support through free school meals and our Healthy Start Vouchers."

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