School, education and governance leaders who represent over a million teachers, support staff, school governors and trustees and others working with children and schools and trusts have signed an open letter to now former Prime minister Liz Truss MP demanding free school meals are offered to all young people in families which are receiving universal credit in England.
The demand comes after a sector wide commitment to protect young people from the ongoing cost of living crisis and after the publication of data from The food foundation, which showed a rapidly worsening crisis with almost four million children living in households where a lack of food is an issue. It is also part of the continuing Feed the Future campaign launched this month (October) to highlight the plight of children living in poverty but who are not currently eligible for free school meals.
The letter was also sent to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt MP and the Education Secretary Kit Malthouse MP, states: "Hunger is now a real issue in our schools. We must make sure that every child has the nutrition they need to be able to learn and thrive…. We urge you to act."
In England, the policy states that the threshold to receive a free school meal is a combined household income of less than £7,400 before benefits. The current policy means 800,000 children living in poverty in England are not eligible for Free School Meals.
Fiona Fearon, Policy and Projects Manager at the National Governance Association (NGA) said:
“The current measure for free schools meal eligibility is not only out of date but also out of touch with the reality and impact of poverty on children across the nation. Schools are doing everything they can to plug the gaps of the wider underfunded and over stretched services. NGA is calling for the government to step in and expand FSM eligibility to all those in receipt of Universal Credit.”