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NGA joins demand for action on free school meals


The National Governance Association has joined other education organisations and Unions in calling for free school meals to be offered to all children in families receiving universal credit or equivalent benefits.

The letter to the chancellor Rishi Sunak and education secretary Nadhim Zahawi cites the intensifying cost of living crisis that means many more families are now struggling to afford school lunches. It states, “We see the devastating reality of children coming to school unable to afford to buy lunch, because their family circumstances mean they fall outside the restrictive free school meal eligibility criteria.”

Data from a major survey from The Food Foundation indicates an estimated 2.6 million children live in households that missed meals or struggled to access healthy food during April. The same survey found levels of food insecurity in households with children have risen by 42% since the beginning of 2022.

While the devolved governments of Scotland and Wales have committed to providing free school meals for all primary school children, as well as more generous breakfast position, the has been no commitment to offer the same to children in England.

Fiona Fearon, NGA’s policy and projects manager said:

“With a widening attainment gap compounded by the pandemic and food poverty on the rise, children from disadvantaged backgrounds continue bear the brunt of educational inequity. A nutritious and balanced diet is essential to a child’s engagement in learning and academic success, and it is a complete injustice that children are going to school hungry. We join with our colleagues in the education sector in calling for the government to extend universal provision of free school meals in line with the devolved governments of Scotland and Wales”