Campaigners Urge Ministers To Widen Children`s Eligibility For Free Meals

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to strike, schools across the UK have seen an increase in the number of children signing up for free school meals.

Surge in number of UK children applying for free school meals
Free school meal/Picture credit: The Guardian

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to strike, schools across the UK have seen an increase in the number of children signing up for free school meals.

The food poverty campaigners said approximately one million children registered for free school meals for the first time. There has been a surge in the level of poverty in the country, with many households seeing a decrease in their incomes amid the coronavirus crisis.

In addition to the 1.4 million children who have already been claiming for free school meals, as many as 900,000 more have signed up, the analysis by Food Foundation thinktank revealed.

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The government has been urged to widen children`s eligibility for free lunches in all schools as millions have been impacted by the crisis.

Rashford, the Manchester United and England footballer who was recently awarded an MBE for services to disadvantaged children said: “The numbers recorded here just reinforce the need for urgency in stabilising households … we must act now to protect the next generation and the most vulnerable across the UK.”

The footballer suggested that as the government winds up the furlough scheme, raising the prospect of a new wave of unemployment, it should extend its £15 a week holiday food voucher scheme for pupils on free meals over half-term.

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A government spokesperson said: “We have taken substantial action to make sure children and their families do not go hungry during this pandemic.”

An analysis by LGA Labour has found that about eight out of ten families are worse off due to the pandemic, indicating that more children than initially anticipated could apply for free school meals.

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