Commenting on the Local Government Association’s call for automatic enrolment of Free School Meals and an expansion of eligibility, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:  

"The LGA is right to point out the importance of ensuring no child or young person eligible for free school meals misses out on this essential service which is vital both for pupils' education and health. Extending the criteria for those qualifying for FSM is also a necessity. Demand has been growing for years, but first with the pandemic and now with the cost-of-living crisis gripping families across the country it is needed more than ever.  

"While families living in poverty need far more wide-ranging support than they currently receive, free school meals are a lifeline. For many children it will be the only meal they are getting in the day.  If the government's intentions of 'levelling up' are to be taken seriously, then this is one area they must not overlook."