THE desperate plight of children in Britain being forced to rely on food parcels to survive is today revealed by the Sunday Express.

Government cutbacks, rising unemployment and soaring food prices are forcing a growing number of families to miss meals, eat badly or go hungry. In one heartbreaking case a 10-year-old boy was arrested for stealing food to feed his two younger ­sisters.

While some children are short of food, far more are severely deprived of essential nutrients because they are relying on cheap junk food.

Nutrition expert Professor Philip James said: “The rate of malnutrition is reaching astonishing levels. Children are being denied fresh foods because families cannot afford to buy them.

“On their poor diets, by early adolescence these malnourished youngsters will be affected by premature diabetes and early signs of underlying heart disease.

“The bone health of these youngsters is under threat and doctors are seeing increasing cases of rickets.”

On Friday the Sunday Express joined volunteers offering food packages to families in some of the most deprived parts of the country.Food Bank outlets across Britain offer a lifeline for many, with some of the parcels being handed out originally intended for the poor of Romania and Bulgaria.

Food Bank manager Marla Naiker said: “We have people who will walk miles to pick up a parcel. They are desperate.”

Our special report follows the publication of a study last week which revealed England has higher child poverty rates than other developed European countries. Seven of the top 10 most deprived areas are in London.

One mother from Tower Hamlets in east London was recently given money by the charity School Home Support as she had no money to feed her six-year-old son. Judith Sabah, who helps run the charity, said: “We gave £150 – otherwise the child would have had nothing to eat.”

Last month a 10-year-old boy was arrested for stealing food in Newton Heath, Manchester. Police discovered he had been forced into crime to get food for his sisters aged three and five.

Our inquiries found many of the parents who qualified for food rations had been forced to skip meals. Jacqueline Robinson, 40, a mother of four from Cardiff, said: “I’m struggling now. I’m robbing Peter to pay Paul with these increases that are going to happen, and I’m really scared.”

Shirley Hodkinson, 32, from Manchester, often goes without meals to make sure her four children, aged 14, 10, eight and seven, have something to eat. She said: “I break down regularly thinking how I’m going to manage.”

More of the original article: UK BEGINS TO STARVE

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