Commenting on Labour’s figures estimating 500k children have become reliant on FSM during the pandemic and the need to extend FSM provision over the half term holidays, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

“No child in 2021 should be coming to school too hungry to learn, but food insecurity is a blight across our country.  This latest research shows it is only getting worse. It confirms the reports by our members that learning impeded hunger is facing many children in our country. 

Last year, the public outcry around Free School Meal (FSM) provision, and the Government’s heartless refusal to ensure every child had enough to eat, forced the Prime Minister into a making a series of U-turns on his policy. However, this year we shouldn't have to wait for the footballer, Marcus Rashford to make the Government see sense if it means running the risk that hundreds of thousands of children and young people could go hungry over the half term and summer holidays.

Over 400,000 children growing up in families with such low incomes they are reliant on FSM does not sound like a country ‘levelling up’. We urge Government to act immediately to ensure that no child misses a meal during the school holidays, and to do everything in its power to tackle the social injustices that push so many families into poverty across the UK.”