Learn more about The Debt Trap, our campaign to end debt's damaging effects on children.
Organisations that support us
Several major organisations have endorsed our Fair and Square campaign. Below is a list of organisations and, in some cases, supporting quotations.
Our supporters include: Action for Prisoners' Families, Archbishop of York, Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), Baptist Union of Great Britain, Bishop of Truro, CSAN (Caritas Social Action Network), Catholic Education Service, Children England, Ekklesia, Family and Parenting Institute, 4Children, Liberal Judaism, the Methodist Church, National Autistic Society (NAS), NCB (National Children’s Bureau), National Union of Teachers (NUT), Oxford Diocese, Sense, Turn2us, United Reformed Church, WBG - Women's Budget Group and YoungMinds.
Please read their endorsements.
'I welcome The Children's Society's Fair and Square report into the provision of good quality free school meals.
'Nutritional meals are vital for all low income families to ensure that children living in poverty get a healthy lunch at school, without burdening an overstretched family budget.
'I wholeheartedly support these recommendations by The Children’s Society. They should be implemented without delay. Speed is of the essence.'
- The Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu
'At The Children's Society we are increasingly seeing families who are struggling to make ends meet. We need to do more for children living in poverty and providing them with free school meals is a realistic and practical step we can take.'
- Rt Revd Tim Thornton
Chair for Trustees, The Children's Society
'It is a scandal that most poor children don’t get free school meals and a system that threatens to make families worse off if they get a pay rise is a disgrace. Children in poverty should get a free and nutritious meal every day without being picked out for stigma and bullying. The TUC is proud to support the Fair and Square campaign.'
- Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC
'ATL fully supports The Children's Society’s Fair and Square campaign to ensure that all children in poverty get at least one nutritious meal every day. Anything that can be done to improve the uptake of free school meals amongst children who are eligible should be encouraged, as there are still many who are missing out. A nutritious meal can result in important health and educational benefits, and for some children it may be their only hot meal of the day.'
- Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL)
Catholic Education Service
'We fully welcome and endorse The Children’s Society’s Fair and Square report and their campaign to ensure that all children living in poverty are entitled to free school meals.
'The current system not only disadvantages the poorest children, jeopardising their nutrition, wellbeing and education; it additionally creates work disincentives by penalising parents moving into low-paid employment.
'The introduction of universal credit is a key opportunity for the government to take account of the evidence and public opinion, and adopt a fairer approach to this fundamentally important issue.'
- Helen O’Brien, Chief Executive, CSAN (Caritas Social Action Network)
- Greg Pope, Deputy Director, Catholic Education Service
'All of our members - the charities and community organisations who support children and parents right across the country – tell us they are deeply concerned about the increasing hardships facing poor families, including those who struggle to make ends meet on low pay.
'Free school meals are an absolutely essential investment in the capacity of poor families to cope financially, and in their children’s health and ability to learn at school. The Children’s Society has evidenced a serious problem with eligibility for free school meals, that acts as a very real 'child poverty trap' for families.
'It is vital that the government takes action to address this if it is really serious about supporting hard-working families and ending child poverty.'
'Good nutrition isn't a luxury, its an essential. Without decent food, health problems will multiply and millions will remain trapped in impoverished lives.
'Proper school meals for children from working families shouldn't be denied to those on low incomes and with limited budgets. Given changes to the benefits system and cuts effecting the most vulnerable, The Children's Society is right to identify free school meals for those on Universal Credit as an axial issue.
'It is a matter of justice, not charity; common interest, not profligacy.'
- Simon Barrow, Co-director Ekklesia
'Free school meals are a vital entitlement for families and children living in poverty, which is why we support the Children’s Society’s Fair and Square campaign. Free school meals which are nutritious and balanced deliver important benefits to children, but they also have real financial value for their parents. The UK will not be a family-friendly society until we protect children living in the lowest-income families from the effects of poverty.'
- Celia Hannon, Head of Research and Policy
'All the evidence is clear that children concentrate better, behave better, have better peer relationships and achieve more in school when they have access to good nutrition and healthy meals. Free school meals already help many poor children, but many more miss out.
'To ensure that no children fall into this nutrition gap, the government must take this opportunity to extend free school meals to all children in poverty.'
- Anne Longfield OBE, Chief Executive
'It is in the interests of children, their families and society that each child eats a balanced and nutritious diet. The levels of obesity and poverty amongst the current school aged generation suggest frightening prospects for the future. The aims of the Children's Society seem to me to be a moral and economic win-win.'
- Rabbi Danny Rich, Chief Executive
'Children living in poverty should get a free school meal. A well-off society such as ours can offer no less – and a church that seeks to follow Christ can ask government for no less.'
- Sam Taylor, Methodist Youth President
'Caring for a disabled child is three times as expensive as caring for a non-disabled child. Families of children with autism face a range of extra costs, include replacing clothing, not being able to use public transport, and having to adapt the house.
'We regularly hear from parents of children with autism who are struggling to make ends meet. That's why the NAS welcomes The Children's Society's new Fair and Square campaign, which aims to extend eligibility for free school meals to help the lowest income families, which often include a child with a disability.'
- Mark Lever, Chief Executive
'NCB works to enhance the health and well-being of children and young people and reduce inequalities of opportunity. For children living in poverty, having a free nutritious lunch at school can be vital for preventing the short, and long-term health problems resulting from poor diet.
'Furthermore, as the Fair and Square campaign report shows, a nutritious lunch at school can increase children’s concentration during afternoon lessons, thus having a positive impact on their education. That is why we are supporting The Children’s Society’s Fair and Square campaign.'
Dr Hilary Emery, Chief Executive
'The National Union of Teachers is pleased to support the Fair and Square campaign. Teachers are well aware of the benefits that result from children having a nutritious meal and the union would welcome the extension of the entitlement to free school meals. We also believe that all publicly funded schools should have to adhere to the nutritional standards for school food.'
- Christine Blower, General Secretary
'There is a clear moral case for all children in poverty to have the right to free school meals. The Fair and Square campaign provides us a unique opportunity to do the best for our children.'
- Rt Revd John Pritchard Bishop of Oxford
'Sense supports The Children’s Society’s Fair and Square campaign because nearly a quarter of deafblind children* with special educational needs are claiming free school meals which provide essential support to these working families who are already struggling with complex lives.
'We believe that the introduction of universal credit offers a real chance to provide more children, including deafblind children, with a meal when they may otherwise go hungry.'
- John Dickinson-Lilley, Deputy Head of Public Policy
* According to the annual schools census, the total number of MSI/deafblind children with a statement is 510, and 115 of them receive free school meals.
'As a charity working on the coalface of financial need, we know that before coming to us 57% of people are skipping meals. No one, and especially children, should be going without food in a modern, affluent society.'
Rebecca Spencer, Head of Campaigns
'When universal credit is introduced, access to free school meals will be even more important, because the government's plan to pay it monthly means budgeting will be harder for low income families in or out of work.
'We know that women are often the managers of the family budget when money is tight - and most likely to lose out if there isn't enough to go round. So maintaining and extending free school meals is crucial for mothers as well as children in low income families.'
- Fran Bennett, on behalf of the Women's Budget Group
'YoungMinds supports The Children’s Society’s Fair and Square campaign.
'A healthy nutritious meal is essential for children to develop not just their physical health but also their mental health. A child’s brain is developing during their school years and eating properly is essential in that development.'
'Many children currently receiving free school meals will be prisoners’ and offenders’ families. Recent MoJ statistics show that 200,000 children are affected by imprisonment every year.
'Action for Prisoners' Families believes that welfare reforms could also impact on the ability of prisoners’ families to receive financial support to visit their family members in prison through the Assisted Prisons Visits Scheme – a ‘passported benefit’ which uses benefit assessments by DWP and HMRC. The Assisted Prisons Visits Scheme goes some way to helping poorer families to maintain relationships and family ties. That opportunity and any other benefits which help to lift families out of poverty should not be jeopardised by poorly thought through welfare reforms.