WHY FREE SCHOOL MEALS ARE WORTH FIGHTING FOR
You will have seen the headlines – schools, unions, food poverty charities and of course Jamie Oliver are all now pushing hard to get our government to give more children free school meals. And we stand with them on this campaign.
“Every day, we see first-hand the difference a nutritious, hot school meal makes to children. And if that meal is the only one they’re going to eat that day, the difference it will make then is immeasurable. Surely, we have a duty to make sure that no child goes hungry?” says Victoria Howe, Founder here at the Farm Kitchen.
The organisation Bite Back 2030 is just one of the charities fighting at the forefront of this campaign. Run for and by young people, it is shining a light on food poverty around the country and how it is affecting children and their families – to read Victor’s story on the difference free school meals would make to him and his family is just heart-breaking.
Food is more than just nutrition
Free school meals can save a family as much as £450 a year. And for children living in poverty, having a free school meal can often mean the difference between eating that day and not eating anything that day. The fact that their school meal will be a healthy, hot, good for you meal will also make all the difference. Nutritious food helps children’s development, helps their concentration and ability to learn, helps them achieve what they want to. But beyond the nutritional side, eating a meal with your classmates is vital for developing friendships and social skills and for improving mental health. The benefits of a free school meal for those children who really need it are endless.
Victoria adds, “As the cost of living continues to rise, pushing more people into poverty, the government must focus on finding the funding it needs to extend the free school meals scheme. We need to show these children they matter and that their futures matter. I cannot think of a better, more worthwhile way to invest public money.”
Free school meals make all the difference
As food costs rise, we are also seeing school meal providers in other parts of the country having to close. They simply cannot afford to pay for the ingredients and keep the meals affordable. Although this is yet to happen in Lincolnshire, it means schools elsewhere are already finding themselves left without caterers and children are forced to bring in packed lunches or buy from local shops. This only exacerbates the problem of food poverty and nutritionally has a detrimental effect on our children.
Increasing the funding for free school meals will help keep these school meal providers afloat, allowing them to continue to provide nutritious, hot meals, making a real difference to the lives of school children up and down the country. Do nothing and the whole system could collapse and we could be left with no school meal provision at all.
You can sign the petition to get the government to extend free school meal provision here.