Of the 5,000 school support staff that took part in the survey by GMB, 8 per cent said that they used their own money to pay for food for pupils who don’t get enough to eat at home.
Many of those polled by the union spoke of children coming to school without having eaten breakfast or not having any money for food at break times.
- Families too poor to afford a healthy diet
- Universal credit fuels rise in food bank use
- Schools clothing and feeding pupils in poverty
One respondent said, ‘I regularly buy biscuits and snacks for children who have nothing for their mid-morning break.’
Another said, ‘I have bought some children fruit in the morning as they often come to school without having breakfast.’
The survey also reveals that the majority of schools have been forced to make ‘significant’ financial cutbacks due to Government underfunding. As a result, more than half of support staff polled said they are spending their own money on resources and other necessities for children including pens, pencils, books and toilet paper.
One respondent said, ‘School dinners are absolutely tiny, therefore any extra food we have at home is taken into school for the children.’
Another said, ‘I’ve spent lots of my own money on buying resources for the children.’
The survey follows figures uncovered by the GMB from the Department for Education’s previously unpublished analysis which revealed that up to 2.6 million children could lose out on free school meals by 2022 due to changes in eligibility.
Karen Leonard, GMB national officer, said, ‘It beggars belief that in one of the richest countries in the world not only are kids coming into school starving – but this Government is cutting free school dinners at the same time.
‘Hungry children cannot learn effectively – Conservative cuts to education are endangering the future of an entire generation of young people.
‘Meanwhile dedicated staff are left out of pocket because they refuse to allow children to go hungry.
‘It’s a scandal – and only properly funding our schools can give our kids the education they deserve.’
A Government spokesperson said, 'We want every child to have the best start in life, and since 2010 there are 300,000 fewer children living in absolute poverty as well as 637,000 fewer children living in workless households.
'There is more money going into schools than ever before, rising to a record £43.5 billion by 2020 – 50 per cent more in real terms per pupil than in 2000. Our new criteria for free schools meals are forecast to increase the number of children who are set to benefit, and our interim protections mean that many more on top of this will continue to receive a meal for longer than they would have otherwise.'