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Southwark joins calls for universal primary free school meals and more funding to tackle holiday hunger

13 December 2022

Earlier this week the council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children, Young People, Education and Refugees, Cllr Jasmine Ali, accompanied Kim Johnson MP, member of the House of Commons’ Education Select Committee, to deliver a letter addressed to the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street, calling on him to extend free school meals to all primary school children, and provide additional funding for councils to tackle holiday hunger.

They were joined by representatives from the End Child Poverty Coalition and National Education Union, as well as young people from Kim’s constituency in Liverpool Riverside.

10 Downing Street
Kim Johnson MP and Cllr Jasmine Ali

Cllr Ali said: "Young people are contending with hunger and cold every day, with holiday hunger likely to increase this winter without additional government support. The Prime Minister must now take decisive action to extend, like we have done in Southwark, free school meals to all primary school children, to ensure they are provided with a hot, nutritious lunch time meal. He must also properly fund the Holiday Activities and Food programme and open it to all, so that no young person is left hungry during the holidays."

Southwark Council has offered free school meals to all primary school children since 2013, and recently called on the Chancellor to use his Autumn Statement to fund universal primary free school meals and increase free school meal eligibility for secondary school pupils. Cllr Ali has also written to the Secretary of State for Education urging her to take immediate action on the expansion of free schools meals to avert a ‘calamitous hunger crisis’.

Southwark runs a successful Holiday Food and Fun Programme, using funding from the Department for Education’s Holiday Activities and Food scheme. However, demand is growing and more funding is needed to ensure that the programme can continue to support those children in the borough whose families are struggling during the cost of living crisis.  

Southwark Council is also actively campaigning, lobbying and raising awareness on the subject of childhood food poverty through a range of channels and in direct communication with the Government. This is part of a wider drive and support package to tackle the Cost of Living crisis affecting residents.

Page last updated: 13 December 2022