Lily Caprani, Director of Strategy and Policy at The Children’s Society, said:
'The government’s decision to make free school meals available to all infants is a significant step forward and we welcome today’s announcement showing how it will become a reality.
'It provides clarity on the way 200,000 more children in poverty will be able to get this vital support.
'For many children, a free school meal is their only chance of getting a nutritious meal. This is critical to their ability to thrive and to help families that are struggling to make ends meet.
'It is important that the government is recognising the need to make additional investment in schools’ kitchens so they can be ready to provide these extra meals.
'There is also a need to go much further. It is vital the government makes sure the remaining 500,000 school children in poverty not covered by this announcement can get a free school meal.
'We look forward to working with the government as free school meals are rolled out and helping to make sure that the poorest children in these schools still benefit from the pupil premium.'
For more information, please call Beth Herzfeld in The Children’s Society media team on 020 7841 4422 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.
Notes to editors
- 3.5 million children in the UK are living in poverty
- Six in 10 children living in poverty are in low-income working families.
- Currently 700,000 children are not entitled to a free school meal despite their need because their parents work. Today’s announcement will cut this number by 200,000. See our Fair and Square campaign for more information.
- The Children’s Society, through its Fair and Square campaign, has been campaigning for every child in poverty to get a free school meal. Together with 38 Degrees we handed in The Fair and Square petition of 90,000 signatures calling for the government to make free school meals available to all children living in poverty.
- The Children’s Society wants to create a society where children and young people are valued, respected and happy. We are committed to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, including children in care and young runaways. We give a voice to disabled children, help young refugees to rebuild their lives and provide relief for young carers. Through our campaigns and research, we seek to influence policy and perceptions so that young people have a better chance in life.