In an open letter to U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Zayn Malik called for government support to provide free school meals to all children living in poverty.
The former One Direction member shared his own experiences growing up in Bradford, England and relying on free school meals. He addressed the “shame” of not being able to afford to buy lunch as a child, and how it can impact the “physical and mental health” of children.
“800,000 children in England miss out on a Free School Meal even though they are living in poverty,” the singer wrote. “Free School Meals are such a big help for the poorest children in our society and they guarantee a reliably hot, nutritious lunch every day at school, so children can thrive rather than worrying about where their next meal comes from.”
Malik also shared the letter to Instagram with the caption: “No child should have to suffer the trauma and stigma of hunger & poverty.” He backed the organization’s campaign to expand free school meals to all children in the U.K. living on universal credit as part of the Autumn statement.
The British government previously said it widened access to free school meals more than any other in recent decades, as BBC reports. Past Ministers have also said that during term time, the government “provides more than 1.6 million free school meals, providing pupils from the lowest-income families with a free, nutritious lunchtime meal”.
In Malik’s request to Sunak, he insisted that “Government support is desperately needed” and that these “pressures will only get worse as food and energy prices keep rising.”