Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham is backing the Children’s Society’s ‘Fair and Square’ campaign, to give all children in poverty including those in low income working families a Free School Meal.
Free school meals are a crucial entitlement for families living in poverty and helps to ensure that children from the lowest income families get at least one nutritious meal every day, and can provide important health and educational value.
Currently 1.2 million children living in poverty in England miss out on free school meals. 700,000 are not even entitled to them, and another 500,000 do not take them up, often for fear of bullying and teasing.
The introduction of the Universal Credit in October 2013 creates a unique opportunity for the Government to extend free school meal entitlement to all children in poverty. This can help families escape the poverty trap faced by parents trying to move into employment and make sure that work always pays. We believe this is a fair reward for low income working families struggling with rising costs.
Alex has written to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, and Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, urgently calling for them to make all children in families in receipt of Universal Credit to be eligible for free school meals.
“I was shocked to learn that half of all school-age children living in poverty aren’t getting free school meals, and more than a million of these kids may not be eating a single nutritious meal all day”.
“Giving children in poverty a free school meal makes sense on every level. They can help children stay healthy and learn. And they can help families escape the poverty trap faced by parents trying to move into employment by making sure that work always ‘pays’.
“The Government must act to ensure that some of the most vulnerable children in our society are given the best start in life and providing a nutritious hot school lunch is a brilliant way to do that.”