Last year around 4 million children in the UK lived in households that went short of food. It doesn’t have to be this way.
As social workers we see how widespread food poverty is in the UK. Two-thirds (64%) of social workers reported concerns about families being able to provide food for children in the 2022 Food Is Care survey, and the cost-of-living crisis is making things worse. In 2023 we are hearing from front line social workers that there are increased self-referrals from families, including where there is one working parent, for support to access food banks and local authority financial contributions towards electricity.
No matter what’s happening in the country or the economy, every child should have the basics to learn.
With food costs soaring and bills skyrocketing, families are under immense pressure. Whether it’s to find the time or the money to put together a nutritious packed lunch. A hot, healthy school dinner every day is the difference between a child going hungry and thriving in school.
That’s why the Social Workers Union (SWU) has joined the No Child Left Behind campaign to call on the Government to extend Free School Meals to every child in primary school. More than 250 civil society groups and leaders have come together to back this demand. That includes charities, medical bodies, unions, councils, mayors, community organisations, faith leaders, and many more.
Join us to urge the Government to extend Free School Meals to every child in primary school.
Co-sign the open letter today and demand that no child is left behind: https://freeschoolmealsforall.org.uk/take-action
Why Free School Meals for All?
Providing a Free School Meal for every child is the only way to ensure that no child goes short of food at school. It increases healthy eating for every pupil, and lets children eat and socialise together, free from stigma or shame.
We know it can be done, because it’s happening already.
In 2020, Scotland pledged to extend Free School Meals to every child in primary. In 2021, Wales promised families they’ll do the same.
In England, Free School Meals are universal up to the age of seven. From Year 3 on, this stops and millions of children don’t get enough to eat during their school day. When children are hungry, they can’t learn. It’s hard for them to concentrate and their attainment suffers.
It’s time we get this done for children in the rest of England too.
To win this for children, families and our school communities, we need every political party behind us.
This week the Free School Meals for All campaign is asking the Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer to join the fight too and make Free School Meals for All a Labour election promise.
This action is supported by Labour MP Zarah Sultana, who introduced the Free School Meals for All Bill in Parliament last year, and is backed by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) who is calling for Labour to put this in their manifesto.
The 250+ civil society leaders, groups, and unions – including the Social Workers Union – know the difference this will make for children’s health, education, and futures. Now it’s crucial we get a firm commitment from the Labour Party that they’ll join our movement and do their bit too.