Zayn Malik Wants Rishi Sunak To Do More To Help Struggling School Kids

"I too was one of the children in the UK that relied on programs to ensure I was able to eat."
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin via Getty Images

Zayn Malik has penned a heartfelt letter to prime minister Rishi Sunak asking him to help more children living in poverty access free school meals.

The singer – who relied on free school meals as a child – shared his concerns that children are going hungry because of the cost of living crisis and called on the newly-appointed PM to widen the net so all children from families on Universal Credit can access free school meals.

The 29-year-old said children in poverty “are suffering from lack of concentration, some even resorting to stealing food from school canteens because they are so hungry but can’t afford to buy lunch”.

“They are also feeling shame which is directly impacting their physical and mental health,” he wrote.

Malik said he knows what that shame feels like, as growing up in Bradford, he relied on free school meals. “I personally experienced the stigma surrounding food insecurity,” he said.

It’s thought 800,000 children in England miss out on free school meals even though they are living in poverty.

Malik said extending the current threshold so that all children from families on Universal Credit could access free school meals “would stop children from enduring the worst of the cost of living crisis which in turn only creates bigger divides between the richest and poorest”.

The singer, who has a two-year-old daughter, said free school meals “are such a big help for the poorest children in our society and they guarantee a reliably hot, nutritious lunch every day at school, so children can thrive rather than worrying about where their next meal comes from”.

He urged the government to “do what’s right and make the changes that are needed” because parents “are already doing everything they can”.

“As Prime Minister, you have the power to change this,” he told Sunak, asking him to commit in his November 17 Budget to give all children living in poverty a free school meal.

“Children going hungry is not inevitable and should not come down to a political issue or ideology,” he added.

The artist and newly named ambassador for The Food Foundation shared a copy of the letter with his 47.3m followers on Instagram, where it’s been favourited more than 1.6m times.

He has also called on his fans to write to their MPs to demand action. He joins the likes of footballer Marcus Rashford and chef Jamie Oliver who have campaigned for better access to free school meals.

Malik added: “The work the Food Foundation do to tackle child food poverty is close to my heart, as I too was one of the children in the UK that relied on programs to ensure I was able to eat.

“I want Government to act urgently to ensure that children no longer have to suffer the trauma and stigma of hunger and poverty and can grow up to have healthy and productive lives.”