Poorer children miss out on free meals

PARENTAL PERMISSION OBTAINED. File photo dated 08/03/07 of a meal being served to a primary school pupil in Cambridgeshire, as more than 350,000 children could lose their free school meals under the Government's planned welfare reforms, a charity has warned. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date date: Thursday April 19, 2012. An analysis by the Children's Society found more than 1.2 million youngsters living in poverty are currently missing out on the dinners which are linked to low-income benefits. See PA story EDUCATION Meals. Photo credit should read: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
PARENTAL PERMISSION OBTAINED. File photo dated 08/03/07 of a meal being served to a primary school pupil in Cambridgeshire, as more than 350,000 children could lose their free school meals under the Government's planned welfare reforms, a charity has warned. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date date: Thursday April 19, 2012. An analysis by the Children's Society found more than 1.2 million youngsters living in poverty are currently missing out on the dinners which are linked to low-income benefits. See PA story EDUCATION Meals. Photo credit should read: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Nearly a third of Mid-Derbyshire children in poverty are missing out on vital free school meals, a charity has revealed.

Research by the Children’s Society showed there are 400 youngsters from low income families in the area who were still paying for their food at school.

Now the society, through its Fair and Square campaign, is calling on the government to make free school meals available to all children in poverty. It is urging people to contact their MP to support this call.

For some children, a free school lunch may be the only proper meal they get. Across the country, for a third of children whose parents The Children’s Society spoke to, lunch was their main meal of the day.

For parents in poverty, finding the £370 a year needed for each child’s school meal often means struggling to provide their children with the basics, including buying them shoes for school and heating the home.

Many low-income families are unable to get free school meals simply because their parents are working – no matter how little they earn.

The Children’s Society Chief Executive Matthew Reed said: “It is shocking that huge numbers of children in poverty in the East Midlands are missing out on a free school meal. Every child in poverty should be entitled to this vital support.

“We know from the families we work with up and down the country that parents are struggling to make ends meet. Right now, the government is reconsidering which children will be entitled to get free school meals. We urge the government to take this opportunity to make sure all children in poverty can get a free school meal.”