Free School Meals Could Be Available To All Under New Plans
Thousands of children could be helped under the proposed changes which began to be actioned last week when the London Assembly called on the Mayor Sadiq Khan and the Assembly Chair to outline a case to the Secretary of State for Education to extend provisions of school meals.
It comes in light of recent figures from the Trussell Trust - the largest food bank organisation in the UK - that showed emergency food supply demand had increased in London from 100,000 in 2013-14 to 160,000 in 2018-19.
Just under 60,000 of those recipients were children.
It also showed that 400,000 children in London have low or very low food security.
Tomorrow, the London Assembly Economy Committee will hold a meeting to gain a deeper understanding of the extent of the issues.
But the Assembly - which exists to ensure the Mayor's actions are in the public interest - is already calling on Mr Khan to undertake research to examine the effect universal free school meals would have on how well children perform in school and health outcomes in London.
This research should accompany the Mayor and Chair's letter to the government to outline a case for free school meals for all - something which would save parents at least £400 a year per child.
The Assembly is now even more concerned since Brexit took place as it means "that food prices are likely to rise at the end of the year". This is no doubt something which could have devastating consequences on already struggling families.
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Reception, year one and year two students in public schools, as well as children at all ages with families on low incomes already receive free or reduced rate school meals, but it's clearly not helping enough, with so many kids turning to food bank provisions in London alone.
It said: "This Assembly agrees with the Mayor that London should be a zero-hunger city."
Fiona Twycross AM, who proposed the motion said: "Food insecurity blights the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in our capital, with many forced to go into school hungry and under-nourished. In one of the richest cities in the world, this is simply unacceptable.
"Foodbanks and other charities do an incredible job of providing emergency food parcels to those affected by food poverty, but the simple truth is they shouldn't exist in the first place.
"Many of the solutions to tackling food insecurity lie in the hands of national Government.
"However, City Hall should also play its role and build the case for extending the provision for universal free school meals."
This motion although stems from the research into London provisions, if approved by the government will change the lives of families across the whole of the UK.
It is however unknown if this will ever be actioned nationally or when, but it is at least a step in the right direction.
If you are a family with low income, you may already be entitled to free school meals - you can find out here.
Featured Image Credit: PA