Alan Whitehead

Labour MP for Southampton Test

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Extend Free School Meals to Cut Child Poverty

Alan Whitehead MP is backing calls for a free school meal to be provided to every child in poverty.

Alan Whitehead MP is backing calls for a free school meal to be provided to every child in poverty.

This comes as shocking new statistics by a leading charity reveal that more than 3100 children in poverty in Southampton Test are missing out on free school meals.

This represents more than half (55%) of all children in poverty in Southampton Test, according to The Children’s Society.

For some children, a free school lunch may be the only hot, nutritious meal they get. Across the country, for a third of children whose parents The Children’s Society spoke to, lunch was their main meal of the day.

Many low income families are unable to get free school meals simply because their parents are working – no matter how little they earn.

Across the country every day, more than half of the 2.2 million school children living in poverty in England miss out on a free school meal. Of these, 700,000 are not even entitled to one – often because their parents work, regardless of how little they earn. 

Alan Whitehead MP says: “When the Tories last ran Southampton they rejected national funding for free school meals for all local pupils.  The Government could now help put that mistake right by extending free school meal coverage to working families below the poverty line.

“Extending free school meals on a national basis makes good economic sense, especially in the current economic crisis.  It’s a cost effective way of providing financial help for working families and reaching our legally binding targets on child poverty. And there is growing evidence that extending free school meals makes a school healthier and helps with learning over the long term.”

The Children’s Society Chief Executive Matthew Reed says: “We know from the families we work with up and down the country that parents are struggling to make ends meet.  Right now, the government is reconsidering which children will be entitled to get free school meals. We urge the government to take this opportunity to make sure all children in poverty can get a free school meal.”

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