For the first time in its over 70 year history, UNICEF are helping to feed UK children during the Coronavirus crisis. 

The UN agency that provides humanitarian aid and fights for the rights of children in over 190 countries and territories declared a domestic emergency response on Wednesday in the UK after seeing food inequality rise dramatically. 

In October, the UK government voted against extending free school meals outside of term time sparking outrage and a petition calling for the end of public money supporting MP’s meals. The petition gained over 1.2 million signatures. 

UNICEF have now guaranteed a grant of £25,000 to the registered charity School Food Matters. The charity aims to teach children about food and strives to improve the accessibility to healthy and nutritious meals that every child should have a right to. They also deliver fully funded education programmes to schools. School Food Matters will use the £25,000 grant to supply 18,000 healthy breakfasts to 25 schools in the severely hit area of Southwark, South London. These nutritious breakfasts will be provided over both the Christmas holidays and February half-term. 

School Food Matters had a devastatingly high response to their summer breakfast boxes programmes, suggesting the harsh reality of some families struggling to feed their children. 

Founder and chief executive, Stephanie Slater said “we’re so grateful to UNICEF for providing this timely funding. By providing breakfast boxes, families know that their children will have a great start to the day with a healthy breakfast.” 

Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg has slammed UNICEFS’ intervention claiming it “a political stunt of the lowest order.” 

He went on to argue that UNICEF should be looking after the children of the most poverty stricken and deprived countries and not making “cheap, political points of this kind.”

The opposition MP’s hit back at Rees-Moggs’ comments with Labours deputy leader, Angela Rayner saying “the only people who should be ashamed of themselves are Boris Johnson and the rest of his government for letting our children go hungry.” 

Data published this year by the International Monetary Funds World Economic Database placed the UK as the sixth richest country in the world. 

“Our children should not be forced to rely on a charity that usually works in war zones and in response to humanitarian disasters,” Rayner said. 

Meanwhile Labour MP, Zarah Sultana responded that “while children go hungry, a wealthy few enjoy obscene riches.” 

SNP’s Tommy Sheppard said “it is astonishing that these comments are coming from the same government that had to be publicly shamed into following Scotland’s lead and providing free school meals for children over the holidays.” 

Food delivery firm Abel&Cole will also provide School Food Matters with 1.2 tonnes of fruit and vegetables worth £4,500 to include in their breakfast boxes.