A MUM pureed cheeseburgers from a fast food restaurant for her child because she didn't know how to cook, and a woman who was given a carrot and had no idea what it was.
Members of Torbay Child Poverty Commission have been hearing shocking stories at their first public meeting.
They heard that many children growing up in poverty arrive at school not toilet trained and unable to use a knife and fork.
Representatives from Hele's Angels, Eat That Frog, Anode and Home-Start, who have worked with local families, attended the meeting at Paignton Library to give presentations to the commission, which was set up by Torbay Council to examine local child poverty and recommend how to mitigate its effects and tackle its causes.
Independent child poverty expert Michelle Kennedy, who chairs the commission, said it 'made her gulp' to hear about the woman who puréed cheeseburgers from a fast food restaurant for her child because she didn't know how to cook, and the woman who was given a carrot and had no idea what it was.
The commission also welcomed an 18-year-old Eat That Frog customer from Paignton to talk about her own experiences.
Torbay has the third worst child poverty figures in Devon, with 22 per cent of children living in households whose income is less than 60 per cent of the median national income.
Chris Forster of Hele's Angels, which offered help, advice and support to more than 2,700 people in the Hele and Lower Barton areas of Torquay last year, said it was 'crucial' to work closely with other community groups.
The commission heard 'community' services were trusted more than local government services by struggling families. Cllr Bobbie Davies said: "People feel they're not going to be judged and their children aren't going to be taken away from them."
Sharon Clayborough, from Home-Start, said many families choose not to use children's centres. She said: "They feel they're being watched and their parenting is being challenged. They feel criticised."
She said many children growing up in poverty arrive at school not toilet trained and unable to use a knife and fork.
Mental health, drugs, rogue landlords, the prohibitive cost of bus travel, and the importance of working together but not 'doubling up' were also discussed.
Nigel Williams, from Anode, said the charity had helped 10,000 people last year through various services including the provision of food and furniture.
Torbay Development Agency board member Sheena Leaf, who represents the business sector on the commission, said businesses were a 'huge, untapped resource' and asked how they could help.
The commission is continuing to gather evidence. It is due to meet again in April.