Covid-19 has shone a light on the extent of food insecurity across the UK, but 2020 has seen us come together to fight it.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of activists, educators, local heroes and one very outspoken Manchester United footballer (thank you Marcus Rashford MBE!), the Government has acknowledged the plight of food insecurity and hunger facing millions of our children.
Our voices have been heard – and the Government’s subsequent £170 million investment in the Covid Winter Grant Scheme will help to relieve the pressure for families struggling with food costs and bills as a result of the continued fall out from Covid-19.
This support will be targeted at children eligible for Free School Meals, which means more than one million children will return to school in the new year better equipped to learn.
However, our work does not stop here. There are still 1.7 million children from families on low incomes – some as little as £7,400 a year – who don’t qualify for Free School Meals all year round.
Free School Meals provide healthy, nutritious food for children who might otherwise risk going without a meal all day. But families in receipt of Universal Credit are not automatically eligible for this support – despite many working families living on less than £20.50 a day.
It is not right that any child comes to school too hungry to learn.
We call on the Government to expand the Free School Meal scheme to include every child from a household in receipt of Universal Credit, or equivalent benefits, to ensure that no child is left behind.