Commenting on the publication of the Government’s Food Strategy, which excludes recommendations by food tsar Henry Dimbleby that Free School Meals should be extended to all Universal Credit households, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“The benefit of providing Free School Meals for low-income families is obvious and has very wide support across the country. Teachers are really worried about the impact of the cost of living on children and family incomes. The Government is once again ignoring advice from its own expert advisers in rejecting the call to make sure all families on Universal Credit are eligible for FSM. This is an extraordinary decision, given rising costs and the Government’s promises to 'level up'. Families receiving Universal Credit absolutely must be able to receive free school meals and we think the extension in eligibility simply can’t wait. This policy will result in a great many young people going hungry, and this is a totally unacceptable position for a Government to take. Heads are also concerned that school funding isn’t keeping up with the actual cost of free school meals, and this really matters if we want meals to be healthy and nutritious."