After last week’s vote thousands of children across the UK are going hungry over half term.

We urge the Government to act immediately to eradicate holiday hunger by providing Free School Meals to all children who need them to ensure that no child is left behind.

Please add your name to those calling for Gavin Williamson to end holiday hunger.

Dear Gavin,

We write to you today because we believe action to counter food insecurity for children is urgent and can't wait. We urge you to look again at the issue of free meals for school holidays in England and to confirm FSMs for the Christmas holidays, as in Wales and Scotland.

Many more families are facing food insecurity because of Coronavirus - and many families receiving Universal Credit are living in poverty. There has been an extraordinary community response this half term week, and widespread support for Marcus Rashford's proposals, showing that the public supports investment in children to banish hunger. However, there still remains in place a postcode lottery for the more than 1 million children facing food insecurity; many will come back to school hungry, malnourished and anxious. The Government has pledged to ensure that students from disadvantaged backgrounds aren't left behind - but a lack of regular, dependable nutritious meals has a huge impact on learning, self-confidence and students' engagement with school. It locks poor children out of opportunities.

At the moment, staff in schools and colleges are working as hard as they can - but they're really worried about what they see unfolding in front of them. NEU members are witnessing the negative impacts of hunger and malnutrition: if a child hasn’t eaten, they cannot concentrate, learn or fulfil their potential. This connects very directly to whether children and teenagers learn well.

During the pandemic, schools are working closely with their local communities to reach out to all families who need extra support. But the right national policies must be put in place.

We urge you to commit to tackling holiday hunger by providing Free School Meals during school holidays to all children whose families are eligible for Universal Credit.

With best wishes

Mary Bousted
Joint General Secretary
National Education Union

Kevin Courtney
Joint General Secretary
National Education Union

Marcus Rashford adds his support to our campaign

Thousands of people have added their voices to our open letter to Gavin Williamson, demanding that FSM be extended over the school holidays and that children from families in receipt of Universal Credit be included in the scheme. Marcus Rashford MBE, who has spearheaded the call for an expansion in Free School Meal provision, has added his support to our campaign.