Volunteers mobilise to ensure children get fed during school closures | Education

An army of parents, teachers and volunteers will mobilise next week to try to ensure that children who rely on free school meals do not go hungry while schools are closed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The government has said that low-income families whose children are ordinarily eligible for the meals will be offered vouchers, food or meals, even if they are no longer attending school because of coronavirus closures coming into force from Friday. Around 1.3 million…

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Should the taxpayer continue to fund free school meals? | Education

Universal free meals for children in key stage 1 are rumoured to be under threat, possibly in tomorrow’s budget. The policy has been controversial since it was introduced in 2014 by the coalition government. Tony Davies headteacher, St Matthew’s primary school, Cambridge YES. I questioned the policy when it started as I thought the funding could have been targeted at the children who most needed it. But I have seen the impact it has had on my school. There’s been…

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Charities preparing to feed children if schools shut over coronavirus | Education

A charity led by the archbishop of Canterbury is preparing to help feed children if schools are closed by coronavirus, amid fears the withdrawal of free school dinners could leave up to 3 million children at risk of hunger. Feeding Britain, which runs food poverty schemes in 12 areas of England including Cornwall, Leicester, Barnsley and South Shields, is exploring how to set up emergency programmes similar to those used to feed the poorest children during the summer holidays. The…

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Free school dinners ‘led to fall in childhood obesity rates’ | Education

The provision of free school meals is a useful weapon in the fight against childhood obesity, according to a groundbreaking study, whose findings are likely to be studied closely by health officials and politicians amid mounting concerns about the problem. A quarter of UK children are overweight or obese when they start school aged four or five, and this rises to a third of children by the time they leave primary school at the age of 11. The new study,…

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London council launches free school meals pilot scheme | Education

A scheme to offer pupils free school breakfast and lunch irrespective of income has been launched in an attempt to tackle the growing food poverty crisis in parts of the UK. Hammersmith and Fulham council rolled out the scheme in west London on Wednesday. It said the national free school meals system was not working, leaving many children going to school hungry and remaining hungry throughout the day. Officials say the threshold for families to qualify for free school meals…

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Free breakfasts to form part of Labour plan to ‘poverty-proof’ schools | Politics

Labour is to promise free, healthy breakfasts for all primary-age children as part of a multibillion pound plan to “poverty-proof” England’s schools and boost educational standards. The shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, will on Thursday pledge to recruit 20,000 more teachers, cap secondary class sizes at 30, and spend £7bn on repairs and upgrades to England’s crumbling school buildings. As well as expanding the provision of free breakfasts to all primary schools across England to help combat hunger, Labour would…

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Schools should have one meat-free day a week, says charity | Education

All state schools in England should offer pupils a compulsory plant-based menu one day a week, under new recommendations to the government that aim to make school meals more environmentally friendly and reflect changing dietary advice. Given wide acceptance that diets need to change to address the climate crisis – including by eating less meat and more beans and pulses – the Soil Association is urging the Department for Education to replace a non-mandatory recommendation for a weekly meat-free day…

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Pupils lose out on £65m of free school meals money, says charity | Education

Secondary school pupils from the most disadvantaged families who are entitled to free school meals are losing out on tens of millions of pounds every year in unspent lunch funds, according to an investigation by a charity. Citizens UK said free school meals money that is not spent by a pupil, perhaps because they are off sick or have missed lunch due to sport commitments, or have not spent the full amount – , is retained by the school meal…

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