Free school meals are a lifeline for many families living in poverty. The scheme means that the poorest children in the country are guaranteed at least one nutritious hot meal a day. It is crucial in the fight to stop children going hungry.
Campaigners have repeatedly called on the government to urgently expand the free school meals scheme. In 2020, footballer Marcus Rashford fought alongside charities and successfully convinced the government to offer meal vouchers over the summer holidays to 1.3 million children in England.
The government is not directly funding food packages or meal vouchers this year, so what are the alternatives as the cost of living rises? It is a lottery postcode as the support available largely depends on where you live.
From just £3 per week
Are free school meals being offered in England?
Havering Borough Council, for example, is offering £90 for every child who is eligible for free school meals. That’s £15 a week over the summer holidays. Nottinghamshire County Council has committed to supporting around 30,000 children over the school summer holidays, by providing £1.5 million worth of food vouchers. This means every child will receive £50 of food support over the holidays. You can find out more about what support is available in your area through your local council’s website.
The government is also running the holiday activities and food programme again this year. The scheme, funded by the government and delivered by local councils, provides healthy food and activities for children who are eligible for free school meals. It runs for four weeks during the summer holidays – with 16 hours of activities offered each week.