More than 10million free school meals have already been funded for state primary school children in the capital, thanks to unprecedented support from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.
Free school meals have been provided to up to 287,000 children each day across London since the start of the school year in September, after the Mayor provided £135m emergency funding.
Sadiq – who received means-tested free school meals as a child – is funding an estimated 1.4m meals each week, after stepping in to help support families as they struggle with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. Families in every borough in the capital are saving upwards of £440 per child across the school year thanks to the Mayor’s historic funding.
It’s the first time ever that free school meals are available to all pupils in every year of state-funded primary schools, special schools and pupil referral units in the capital.
Children in years 3 to 6 in primary school had previously only received free school meals if they lived in households on universal credit earning less than £7,400 a year – after tax and not including benefits, and regardless of the number of children in the family.
Today, the Lynk Up Crew – a group of young advisers to the Mayor aged seven to 14 – will hand deliver a letter to Downing Street calling on the Prime Minister to provide permanent universal free school meals for primary school children across England.
The group of 50 young advisers are calling on Government to ensure every child receives a healthy meal at school every day – helping their health and wellbeing.
It comes as latest City Hall polling from YouGov reveals that nearly a third of parents or carers of children under 18 (31 per cent) are currently buying less food and essentials to help them manage living costs. In a separate question, 42 per cent think they will struggle to afford their regular household shop for food and essential items over the next six months.
Sadiq’s free school meals funding is the latest programme from the Mayor to support Londoners with the cost-of-living crisis.
That includes investing £3.46bn into building the genuinely affordable homes Londoners need and £400m on skills and employment programmes to support Londoners to find more secure work, as well as more than £80m to help those struggling with the rising cost of living to tackle fuel poverty, supporting private renters, connecting Londoners to welfare advice and tackling food insecurity.
The Mayor has also provided an emergency funding package of more than £3.5m to help provide around 10m free meals during school holidays and at weekends to low-income Londoners struggling with the spiralling cost of living over the next year.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’m proud to have already funded more than 10m free school meals since September to help hundreds of thousands of children and their parents across London.
“I know from personal experience what a lifeline these meals can be and how important it is that we are able to fund around 1.4m meals every week to help families as they cope with the cost-of-living crisis.
“I’m committed to doing all I can to support children as we build a better London for all, and will continue to urge Ministers to step forward with the necessary funding to ensure that all primary school children receive these vital meals on a longer-term basis.”