school children playing

The government recently passed a crucial amendment about free school meals provision to the children and families bill. As a result, from September, state-funded schools will be obligated to offer a free lunch to infant school-aged children. 

In total, some 200,000 children in poverty who are not currently entitled to free school meals will receive them.

Our Fair and Square campaign – which calls for the government to take action to ensure that all children in poverty receive a healthy school lunch – has been instrumental in making this change happen. 

This is a big victory for the campaign and a testament to the power of you and more than 90,000 fellow supporters.

Wide support for free school meals

Not only is this new legislation instrumental in helping to tackle issues of child poverty, hunger and health inequality in the UK, it’s something many, many people recognise as important.

In a survey we carried out, we found that 91% of the British public supported our call for free school meals to be provided to all children living in poverty.

In our survey of teachers in the UK, nearly half told us that they had seen children coming into school hungry. Many said staff at times provided food and money from their own pockets to students who otherwise would have gone without. 

Free school meals matter

Free school meals can help ease the financial pressures low income families face. The average family spends £437 a year on school lunches per child. This amendment will enable families to spend that extra income on such basic necessities as clothing or childcare.

These free school meals will deliver nutritious food to many children in poverty who are currently missing out. This can have a big effect on the young people’s learning. A pilot study conducted jointly by the Department for Education and the Department of Health found that when children are provided a healthy free school lunch, their educational performance improves.

Thank you

With these lunches established in legislation, we’ve reached a significant milestone for children and their families.

In the coming months primary schools across Britain will be preparing to deliver nutritious free school meals for all infant school-age children. 

Change is already underway. Education Secretary Michael Gove has written to all primary school head teachers to make sure schools are prepared for this change, and to offer support and guidance about how schools can make this change happen.

While there is still more work to do, we would like to thank you for supporting of our Fair and Square campaign. You helped achieve a vital change, and helped deliver millions of free school meals. Well done!

By Kadra Abdinasir - Policy and Parliamentary Volunteer
Kadra Abdinasir
- Policy team

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