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Mayor of London announces emergency funding to provide free holiday meals to low-income Londoners

More than £3.5m has been announced to help provide free meals during school holidays and at weekends to low-income Londoners, coming into effect immediately during this Easter school holidays. 

A young boy with a school lunch. Copyright: Pixel-Shot shutterstock

A young boy with a school lunch. Copyright: Pixel-Shot shutterstock

A new emergency funding package announced by The Mayor of London will provide around 10m free meals during school holidays and at weekends to low-income Londoners struggling with the spiralling cost of living. The Mayor of London is working with charities, schools and grassroots organisations to reach hundreds of thousands of struggling families and children of all ages with free nutritious meals and activity schemes across the capital in the next 12 months.

This follows an announcement last month from the Mayor to provide an emergency £130m to provide free school meals to primary school children in London due to the cost of living.

Mayor Sadiq Khan has repeatedly called on the Government to do more to tackle the spiralling cost of living and the challenge of children going hungry during school holidays, with recent GLA polling showing that half of Londoners are now either ‘financially struggling’ or ‘just about managing’.

The funding includes £3.1m to the Mayor’s Fund for London and the Felix Project to expand their ready-made and cook-at-home meal provision during school holidays. The Mayor’s Fund provides free healthy meals to low-income families and young people through more than 340 community partners and 80 hubs where food is provided alongside a range of school holiday activities, while the Felix Project delivers surplus food from a range of suppliers to nearly 1,000 charity organisations and schools that support those in need. 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said:

“The spiralling cost of living is hitting low-income Londoners particularly hard and it’s shocking so many people are struggling to put food on their table. I have repeatedly called on the Government to do more to help those in need and support families during the school holidays, but they have not provided the assistance that is urgently needed. That’s why I’m stepping in today with a major new emergency funding package that will provide around 10m free holiday meals to hundreds of thousands of Londoners most in need. I’m committed to doing all I can to support Londoners through this cost of living crisis and will continue to urge Ministers to step forward and do the same as we build a more prosperous London for all.”

In response, Barbara Crowther, Children’s Food Campaign Co-ordinator at Sustain, said: 

“It’s a scandal that in our relatively wealthy country, increasing numbers of families with children still cannot access healthy and nutritious food each day. Whilst our food system is broken, schools and local community hubs across London are doing incredible work in providing a nutritional safety net, supported by organisations like the Felix Project and Mayor’s Fund for London. We heartily welcome the Mayor’s new funding package to enable these groups to get more healthy meals to more families over the coming year. Beyond that, we must all keep calling for proper living wages and benefits set at a level that enables people to live with more dignity and afford nutritious food, as well as an end to the stigmatizing means testing of school meals, and healthy school food for every child every day.” 

Anna Taylor, Executive Director of Sustain alliance member The Food Foundation, said:

“The London Mayor has demonstrated inspired leadership in the fight to end child food poverty, and his newest announcement recognises how difficult it can be for low-income families to feed their children when they are out of school and don’t have the nutritional safety net of Free School Meals. Combined with the roll-out of school meals for all London primary schools, this provision will be a real game-changer for parents across our capital who can rest assured that their children will have access to a nutritious meal every day, even if bills are stacking up at home and food costs are spiralling out of control. But the sad truth is that, without central Government taking the necessary action, we’ll see an even greater postcode lottery and children outside of London not on a level playing field. The time is well overdue for Government to address the issue of children missing out on Free School Meals, and therefore not qualifying for free holiday provision, so that all children across our nation have an equal chance to eat healthily and thrive.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published 29 Mar 2023

Children's Food Campaign: Better food and food teaching for children in schools, and protection of children from junk food marketing are the aims of Sustain's high-profile Children's Food Campaign. We also want clear food labelling that can be understood by everyone, including children.

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The Independent

Sadiq Khan pledges free meals during school holidays and weekends for low-income London pupils

Barbara Crowther, Children’s Food Campaign Co-ordinator, comments

29 Mar 2023 | Visit

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