A Journey Towards Lunchtime Equality — My Campaign for Free School Meals During Exam Time
By Victor, 01 Aug 2023
A testament to the power of grassroots activism and the impact young people can have when we stand up for what we believe in.
Hello there! I'm Timi, also known as Victor, a 16-year-old Member of Youth Parliament for Greenwich and a Youth Councillor for Thomas Tallis School. Today, I'm thrilled to share with you a journey that has been both challenging and rewarding, a journey that started with a simple idea and grew into a campaign that has made a real difference in the lives of students at my school.
My journey began with Bite Back 2030, a youth-led movement for a fairer food system. My involvement with Bite Back has been instrumental in shaping my understanding of food justice. I've learned about the importance of nutritious meals for young people and the role they play in our academic performance and overall well being. This knowledge ignited a passion within me, a burning desire to ensure that every student at my school had access to a nutritious meal, especially during exam times.
Working with Bite Back 2030, I had the opportunity to participate in a protest in Central London, where we handed in a petition to Downing Street. This experience was eye-opening, it showed me the power of collective action and the impact we can have when we stand together for a cause we believe in.
So, I decided to use collective action to create change in my local area. My campaign started small, with just a friend and me. We collected 270 signatures from students and teachers at our school in just three days. This was our first step, a small but significant action that set the stage for what was to come. We then delivered our letter to the Woolwich Centre and followed up with emails to local councillors. This led to a meeting with Councillor John Fahy, a moment that marked a turning point in our campaign.
Our efforts didn't go unnoticed. We were featured in the local media, including an article in 853, which brought our campaign to the attention of a wider audience. This recognition was a huge boost for our campaign, and it showed us that people were listening, that they cared about the issue we were fighting for. It was a moment of validation, a sign that our efforts were starting to bear fruit.
Despite the challenges we faced, such as balancing the campaign with exam preparation and dealing with periods of seeming stagnation, we persevered. We kept the momentum going, stayed motivated, and our hard work paid off. Our campaign gained traction, and we started seeing tangible results — free breakfast porridge for exam students, and eventually, free school meals for all students taking exams, funded by Durkan Homes.
The moment I learned about our victory, I was overjoyed. It was a testament to the power of grassroots activism and the impact young people can have when we stand up for what we believe in. This win was not just for me, but for all the students at Thomas Tallis School who supported our campaign. It was a milestone in our long battle for lunchtime equality and food justice.
Looking ahead, my hope is to see every child in London have access to a decent, healthy, and nutritious meal at lunch. I want to create a culture where school lunch is the norm, where people can eat together the same way we learn together, where no one dreads lunch time but instead looks forward to it, and everyone feels equal. I plan to continue campaigning for this issue, holding Government leaders accountable, and working towards a future where no child is held back by hunger at school.
In the face of the current cost of living crisis, the need for free school meals is more urgent than ever. I urge everyone to join me in this fight. Let's ensure that our voices are heard and that every child gets the support they need during these challenging times.
As I reflect on this journey, I am filled with gratitude for the support I've received from my peers, teachers, and the wider community. I am also filled with hope for the future. The success of our campaign shows that change is possible, that when we come together and raise our voices, we can make a difference. This is just the beginning. I am committed to continuing this fight, to ensuring that every child has access to the nutritious meals they need to thrive.
In the end, this campaign is about more than just free school meals. It's about equality, justice, and the kind of society we want to live in. It's about ensuring that every child, regardless of their background or circumstances, has the opportunity to succeed. And it's about standing up for what we believe in, even when the odds are against us.
So, join me in this fight. Together, we can make a difference. Together, we can create a future where no child goes hungry at school.