This all sounds rather Maoist to us. The children of the nation should be fed in communal canteens on the basis that their parents just can't get this right:
Up to 3 million children risk going hungry during the school holidays, leaving them vulnerable to malnutrition and undermining their education and life chances, a cross-party group of MPs and peers has warned.
Its report cited evidence of children existing on holiday diets of crisps, hungry youngsters unable to take part in a football tournament because “their bodies simply gave up”, and others surviving on stodgy, unhealthy diets “bought to fill hungry stomachs”.
The report said those at risk of hunger over the summer include more than 1 million children who receive free school meals during term time, and 2 million more with working parents who are still in poverty.
There's more background here. And the evidence presented is shockingly thin. It is, quite literally, that 1 million get free school lunches so clearly they're at risk of hunger when there are no free school lunches.
The call is thus for some replacement system of getting a free lunch to such children. Which is to violate one of the basics of subsidy, we don't and should not subsidise things, we should subsidise people. As, in fact, we do with the free school lunches. The kids are going to be there, they need to eat, so there is provision for lunch. That's paid for, of course. But then some are too poor to pay, so they get free provision. We're not subsidising the existence of lunch, we're subsidising some people to gain access to what is produced.
This is an excellent general rule about subsidy. The answer therefore being that if children, or their families, are too poor to have lunch is for them to have more money so they can buy lunch. Not to have a system trying to provide them with lunch.
However, the report also manages to wildly miss the import of their own evidence. They tell us that the potion of household income spent on food dropped over the decades:
The proportion of household income spent on food and non-alcoholic drink decreased from 33.3% in 1953 to 16% in 2003.
The proportion of household income spent on food and non-alcoholic drink also in 2003 increased from 16% to 17% in 2011 (this includes a decrease by 1 percentage point to 15% in 2005 before increasing again in 2006).
We're twice as food rich as our grandparents were and this is evidence that we need a National Lunch Service? That the government must build a new system to feed the kiddies?
We think we'll file this under "politicians desperately thrashing around to appear relevant to some issue in the headlines."