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BASW England Director writes to Children’s Minister over free school meals

Maris Stratulis has written to the Children’s Minister to urge the government to change its position on free school meals during the school holidays.

Following on from the Government’s announcement that they will not extend free school meals to cover school holidays, BASW's England Director Maris Stratulis has written to the Children’s Minister to urge them to reconsider their position.

In the letter to the Minister, Maris wrote:

“Successive governments have understood the importance of free school meals for those who are most in need, as an empty stomach will limit the ability of a child to achieve their full potential. This is not just in school, but in other aspects of their lives. Children who are not eating properly are not healthy children, as the lack of nutrition will have a direct negative impact on their mental and physical wellbeing. The impact of poverty on parenting is well known. Children who are in poverty are significantly more likely to be in the care of the state. The huge majority of parents in poverty parent well, but for those parents who are struggling, poverty makes their task of parenting much harder.

“The increase in families needing support during the pandemic coupled with stretched Local Authority budgets means that the additional funding from Government is not enough to meet demand. Local Authorities are having to make tough choices about where to spend money. The provision of free school meals is an additional financial request that needs the Government to step in to protect vulnerable families from further hardship.

“A valuable first step is by providing the means to ensure no child goes hungry. It is, in our view, one of the most fundamental responsibilities of a Government.”

The Labour Opposition have said that they will force another vote on free school meals if the Government does not change course before the Christmas break.