Let's make school meals free for every child living in poverty

19 December 2017

The Department for Education is consulting on its proposal for free school meal entitlement under Universal Credit.

At School Food Matters we want every child living in poverty to receive a free school meal.  Currently families receiving Universal Credit (UC) are eligible but this will change once UC is rolled out. We're working with The Children's Society to spread the word about the DfE consultation. We want all views to be heard. 

Whether your focus is food poverty, children's health or building a benefits system that helps families back into work, please respond to the consultation.  You can respond directly by going to the DfE website here or by going via The Children’s Society action which you’ll find here. The deadline for responses is 11 January 2018.

Despite generous protections to entitlement during the roll out of UC, the DfE is proposing an earnings threshold of £7,400 to determine eligibility for free school meals. The Children's Society has calculated that a million children in poverty will miss out on a free school meal and it will be almost entirely working families who miss out. 

Free school meals are worth around £400 per child per year and we know that many low income families struggle to find the money to pay. Often families will switch to packed lunches and, with only 1% of packed lunches meeting the same nutritional standards of a school meal, children will be missing out of a healthy hot lunch which will sustain them and support their learning. We want to see more children eating nutritious school meals, not fewer, so that healthy eating becomes the norm and benefits the children that need it most.

Read The Children's Society press release for useful facts and figures here and help us make school meals free for every child living in poverty.

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The consultation on eligibility for free school meals under pupil premium closes today and we're urging the DfE to make FSM available to all families receiving Universal Credit.

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