100+ civil society leaders call for Free School Meals for All children in primary school

As the worst cost of living crisis in a generation takes hold, MPs, mayors, unions, charities, faith leaders and medical bodies urge the Prime Minister to take action to ease the pressure for every family. 

Today the Chartered College of Teaching joins civil society to call on the Government to extend Free School Meals to every child in primary school in England. 

The letter, which launched in the Mirror, has been organised by the National Education Union’s No Child Left Behind campaign and brings together a diverse coalition of groups. 

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union said: 

“We are living through the greatest cost of living crisis in a generation, and too many families with young children are being pulled into poverty.

Teachers and support staff see the difference a healthy school dinner makes. When children are hungry, they can’t learn. It’s hard for them to concentrate and harder for them to reach their potential. Free School Meals for all would mean every child can learn and succeed.” 

Dr Camilla Kingdon, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said:

“Every day, we see the impact of hunger and malnutrition in our work as paediatricians. It is not unusual for us to care for children who do not have enough to eat or who don’t have access to a regular substantial meal. 

Good nutrition lies at the heart of health and wellbeing for children and young people. By extending free school meals we would not only tackle child hunger, but also give our future generations a better start in life.” 

Last year around 2.6 million children in the UK lived in households that went short of food. 

With food costs soaring and bills skyrocketing, families are under immense pressure – whether it’s to find the time or the money to put together a nutritious packed lunch.

A hot, healthy school dinner every day is the difference between a child going hungry and thriving in school.

In England, for the first three years of school, every child gets a Free School Meal and no child wants for food while they are at school. This stops after Year 2. 

In 2020, Scotland pledged to extend Free School Meals to every child in primary. In 2021, Wales promised families they’ll do the same. Why are children in England still waiting?

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