Free School Meals
Re: Free School Meals
Thank you for contacting David Drew MP about the very important matter of free school meals. This issue has come under great scrutiny from charities, the Labour Party and the public.
The Government plans for Universal Credit involve changing the threshold so that children whose family earn over £7,400 (excluding benefits) will not be eligible to free school meals. The Government estimates that 50,000 additional children will be eligible for free school meals, however this is widely debated and the Children’s Society has projected that one million children could lose out on having a guaranteed meal every school day.
Although the exact number of children effected is disputed, it is understood that free school meals’ worth equates to £400 per child, annually. This is a considerable amount of money for a family. In fact, a survey taken of parents indicates that nearly 45% of parents eligible, are worried ‘a lot’ about the financial implications of the loss of free school meals when taking on additional hours at work.
David believes that free school meals should be offered to all children because there is evidence to suggest that there are benefits beyond fiscal ones. Firstly, research shows that eating a nutritious meal at lunchtime has important health and educational benefits for children, and can improve their diet, concertation and classroom behaviour. Lastly, if free school meals are only offered to students below a specific financial threshold, children feel the stigma when claiming their meals in front of others. Offering free school meals to all would contribute to equality and the welfare of students.
The combination of austerity and cuts to school funding has resulted in a harsh reality for the most vulnerable students. Headteachers from all over the country spoke about how they are having to try and make sure each child has access to clean clothes and warm meals because families were increasingly unable to afford it themselves. Daily, teachers see their pupils are under-nourished, weak, and unable to concentrate on lessons. This means that children are unable to learn adequate skills for the future and will be unhealthier throughout their lives. The current situation is already endangering children and changes to free school meals will only make this worse.
David stands behind any and all policies that support the learning and welfare of children and voted in favour of free school meals for children.
For David Drew MP