Southwark Council funds emergency free school meals in secondary schools for low-income families

24 February 2023

Southwark Council will provide free school meals for one year to secondary pupils who don’t currently get them and whose parents get Universal Credit. This is a major new pilot programme to help tackle hunger in our secondary schools.

Southwark Council already provides healthy free school meals to all children in primary schools and has done so for 10 years. We are one of only four London boroughs to offer this.

The Mayor of London recently announced a funding package to fund free school meals for all primary school children in London – as is already happening in Southwark. We welcomed this funding announcement and as a result will save approximately £3.2million which we will use to fund our pilot programme in secondary schools.

Councillor Kieron Williams, leader of Southwark Council, said: “As one of the first councils to guarantee a hot, nutritious meal at lunchtime for all primary school children, we know how life-changing they are. The money saved from the Mayor’s new proposal is approximately £3.2m. It is too early to say whether this will be enough to fund all secondary school children in families whose parents receive Universal Credit but miss out on free school meals because they earn above the threshold, but the intention is to do so and make sure that secondary school pupils do not go hungry.”

There are high levels of deprivation in Southwark. 17 per cent of children aged under 16 live in relative low-income families. Our new pilot programme in secondary schools will provide vital help to thousands of families who are struggling with the cost of living.

The pilot programme in secondary schools will run during the 2023/24 academic year, alongside the Mayor of London’s programme in primary schools.

Page last updated: 24 February 2023

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