Fair and Square: Free school meals for all children in poverty

We launched our Fair and Square campaign in 2012, calling on the government to extend free school meals to all children living in poverty, including low-income working families.

Free school meals provide vital support for low-income families and for almost a third of children, school lunch is their main meal of the day. Yet more than a million children in poverty are missing out on free school meals.

Why are free school meals important?

Our Fair and Square campaign report shows evidence that eating a nutritious meal at lunchtime:

  • has important health and educational benefits for children
  • can improve their diet and increase their concentration during afternoon lessons
  • can help children to develop healthy eating habits
  • can potentially decrease health inequalities

Free school meals help lift families out of poverty:

  • Free school meals have a considerable cash value – around £370 per year per family.
  • We estimate that free school meals already lift 140,000 children out of poverty.
  • If the government expanded entitlement to free school meals to all families receiving Universal Credit, a further 100,000 children would be lifted out of poverty – helping to keep the government on target in its goal to end child poverty by 2020.

Read more:

Campaign success: Delivering lunch to 1.4 million children

Our campaign, backed by several organisations including the Trades Union Congress, the Association of Lecturers and Teachers, and 4 Children, made the issue prominent on the government's agenda. This resulted in the government announcing that all children in reception and years 1 and 2 will be entitled to a free school meal.

This means an extra 1.4 million children will be able to rely on at least one free, nutritious meal every school day.

Thanks to all of you who joined the Fair and Square campaign. This is a huge step forward for children and their families. Our work won’t stop here. We will keep calling for all children in poverty to get a free school meal. 

How you can support the campaign?

Send us an email to get involved and receive information about Fair and Square and our other campaigns.