Sadiq Khan says all primary school pupils should get free school meals amid cost of living crisis

·2-min read
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan(Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan(Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)

Sadiq Khan has called for all pupils in primary school to recieve free school meals as the cost of living crisis worsens.

All infant school pupils currently get free school meals, but only those from the most disadvantaged families qualify in older years.

The mayor of London has called for an urgent expansion of the scheme and says that all students in Years 3, 4, 5 and 6 should receive it regardless of household income.

Official figures show that inflation reached 9 per cent in April as the cost of food, energy and transport surges, and is expected to reach 11 per cent later this year.

Food inflation increased to 4.3 per cent in May from 3.5 per cent in April.

According to official government figures, the proportion of all pupils eligible for free school meals increased over the last 12 months, from 20.8 per cent in January 2021, to 22.5 per cent in January 2022.

In the capital, more than 2.3 million Londoners live below the poverty line and 33 per cent of adults have skipped meals to save money so their children can eat.

The number of people using a food bank has risen nationally from around one in 10 in March 2020 to almost one in six in March 2022, according to research from the Food Standards Agency.

Sadiq Khan said: “Free school meals were something my family relied upon – and every child in London deserves that safety net.

“With the summer holidays on the horizon it is essential that the Government act now to reinstate the meal voucher system to give families dignity and nutritional choice over the summer. This should then be followed by the introduction of universal free school meals for all primary school children from the start of the new school year in September.

“Multiple London councils are already leading the way on this and showing what can be done if we put the health and wellbeing of our young people first in such perilous economic times. It is time for the Government to step up.”

Polling by YouGov found 83 per cent of adults in London say their households cost of living has increased over the last six months.

Meanwhile, 12 per cent of Londoners say they have gone without food and essentials, this proportion triples (37 per cent) amongst Londoners who say they are struggling financially.

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