Extra support for families entitled to free school meals
Students from Fulham College Boys' School in their canteen during term time
Pupil in need in the borough of Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) is to be given free meal vouchers for next week’s half term break.
This means that every parent in need with a child in an H&F state school will be given a voucher by the council to pay for food during the half term break.
H&F currently has approximately 5,600 primary and secondary pupils who are eligible for free school meals – or 27 per cent of all local pupils. This is far above the national average of 19 per cent.
In addition, school breakfasts will be distributed to 600 local pupils most in need of help during half term.
In the past year, there has been a 12 per cent increase in demand in free school meals in the borough. This is expected to increase further due to the end of the Covid-19 furlough scheme.
The rise in demand from families in need is why H&F has already guaranteed the funding to allow local primary schools to offer universal free breakfasts to pupils to help local families combat food insecurity. The council says a free breakfast club offer could save a struggling family £380 per year for every child in primary school.
In addition, we’ve launched a pioneering pilot scheme at two local secondary schools – Fulham College Boys’ School and Woodlane High School – to deliver free lunches. The free school lunches started last year as part of a four-year programme.
“The gravest health and economic pandemic of our lifetime is not over. Yet the government has turned its back on families in need by removing the Universal Credit top-up, all while food and energy bills are going through the roof,” said Cllr Larry Culhane, H&F Cabinet Member for Children and Education.
“We won’t look the other way. That’s why we have funded Free School Meals in the holidays since October 2020 and will continue to do so while this pandemic continues. I am extremely grateful to our schools who continue to work closely with us to make sure that no child is left hungry.”
The vouchers are paid for community contributions made by property developers as a condition of getting planning permission.
The council is also providing funding from this source to 17 local groups and organisations to provide food at holiday activity for children, including Fulham Cricket Club, The Harrow Club, London Sports Trust and the Masbro Youth Club.
The government’s free school meal system is not working according to the council. It believes that the threshold for families to receive school meals is too high and allows children to go hungry during school holidays.
In the UK, having one parent in paid work usually makes families ineligible for free school meals. Yet the majority of Londoners in poverty are in a working family – with almost 10 per cent of poor families having two parents in full-time work.
If your family is in crisis this half term, you can call the Community Aid Network hotline on Freephone 0800 145 6095 from Monday to Sunday, 8am to 6pm, or email email@example.com
Support for families is also available at the Hammersmith & Fulham Foodbank
Hammersmith & Fulham Foodbank provides help and support to those in need in the borough. That includes emergency food parcels, and advice or referrals to other organisations to help families in food poverty. The Foodbank receives funding from H&F Council.
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October 22, 2021