The Children’s Society: Fair And Square
Here’s Sophie Brightwell from Greenbelt associates The Children’s Society on their new campaign for free school meals for all children in poverty…
Communion at Greenbelt always makes me think of Jesus sharing loaves and fishes with the assembled crowds. The traditional image is of a benign saviour performing a slightly improbable miracle, feeding 5000 appreciative people sitting in neat circles on red-checked picnic cloths. It’s easy to imagine them all, gathering as we do on the Sunday morning, chatting and dishing out bread from the on-site camp shop.
And yet it would seem that the context of the feeding miracle was something very different. The crowd were hounding Jesus, following and jostling to keep up with him because they had seen what he was doing. They needed him, and they needed him because they were poor.
John’s gospel tells us that the sharing of the loaves and the fishes so that all are fed is also a sign, something pointing beyond itself. And the sign – pointing to the kingdom of God – is nothing about religious rituals. It’s about feeding people, and meeting their immediate needs.
It’s easy to sanitise the gospels, and it’s easy to sanitise our own context. It’s easy to see poverty as a problem somewhere else. And yet there are 2.2 million school children living in poverty in England. 1.2 million of these do not get a free school meal.
Of these 1.2 million children, 700,000 are not even entitled to a free school meal at all – the majority simply because their parents work. A further 500,000 are not taking up the meals, often because of the quality of meals and issues of teasing and bullying.
As Christians we believe in the coming of the kingdom of God. In this miracle, Jesus gives us a sign as to how this might look. All the crowd ate, we are told, and all had enough.
That’s why The Children’s Society is campaigning for all children living in poverty to get free school meals — often the only nutritious meal they receive all day. Please join us. Visit our website and sign the petition now, or come see us at Greenbelt to find out more and to help create a society where all children have enough to eat.