Free School Meals
In her first speech as Prime Minister, Theresa May vowed to fight the “burning injustice” of social inequality. “If you’re born poor you will die, on average, nine years earlier than others,” she raged. Her government is now set to introduce a policy that will see one million children living in poverty miss out on receiving a free school meal.
The policy is set to be introduced as part of the roll out of Universal Credit. The Government is proposing to introduce means testing for free school meals under Universal Credit, and the Children’s Society has warned that the numbers don’t add up. The new threshold will deny a hot, nutritious meal to one million children living in poverty.
The regions worst affected by child poverty stand to lose the most. In London 212,000 children are projected to miss out on free school meals, in the West Midlands 130,000 children will miss out and in the North West a further 130,000 children will miss out.
The Labour Party has responded by committing to free school meals for all children living in families in receipt of Universal Credit. The Labour Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Debbie Abrahams, has said that “Labour will introduce universal free school meals, to end the scandal of children going hungry at school.”
Soil Association Food for Life supports this commitment and has called on the Government to extend the proposed eligibility criteria to ensure that no child living in poverty goes hungry at school.
We know that free school meals can benefit a child’s diet and health, and their behaviour, attendance and academic performance. We believe that they should be available to those that need them the most. It’s time for May’s government to step up to the plate.