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Mayor of London plans to continue offering free school meals for all Ealing primary schoolchildren at state schools

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has announced that he intends to continue funding free school meals for all London’s state primary schoolchildren including those in Ealing for the next academic year.

Since September 2023, primary schoolchildren in Ealing who go to state schools get free school meals.

The existing initiative from the Mayor of London to help support people with the cost-of-living crisis, sees pupils being provided with a free meal that saves families in Ealing around £440 per child during the current year.

The Mayor is now proposing to spend £140m in his 2024/25 budget to extend free school meals for another year from September 2024.

The announcement comes ahead of the May 2024 London Mayor elections which see Mr Khan running for a third term.

The current programme provides a free meal for up to 287,000 children each day including 12,581 in Ealing alone and each borough being given £3 per pupil to provide a meal.

Previously, children in Years 3 to 6 in primary school had only been entitled to free school meals if they lived in households on universal credit earning less than £7,400 a year – after tax and not including benefits, and regardless of the number of children in the family. According to City Hall, the Mayor’s additional funding allows more children from working families in poverty who were not able to receive free school meals.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, said: “Delivering free school meals has been one of my proudest moment as Mayor as I have seen the difference it has made to the children receiving them and to their families. I am thrilled to announce my intention to extend this lifeline for families for yet another year.

“I know from personal experience what a difference these meals can make and it’s been fantastic to hear from teachers how much better children are performing and also how much parents and their children have benefited, with parents not having to worry about how to provide their children with a healthy, nutritious meal during the school day. Sadly Londoners continue to struggle with the cost-of-living crisis and with the Government failing to step forward to deliver these meals, we have worked hard to find the money to provide this vital funding for the next academic year.”

Celebrity chef and food campaigner Jamie Oliver said: “Huge kudos to Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, for extending free school meals across London for another academic year. Not only will it help families make ends meet, but evidence proves that children having access to delicious, nutritious food at school is the foundation of their wellbeing and educational success.

Mr Oliver added: “It’s more than just nourishing their bodies – it’s a fundamental support system that significantly impacts their future. At a time when so many families are struggling financially, supporting free school meals has never been more vital. It’s a lifeline for children, providing the nourishment they need to thrive, despite these challenging times.”

Chef Tom Kerridge added: “This is great news for so many parents feeling the pressure from the cost-of-living crisis. No child should go hungry because their parents cannot afford to buy them lunch. This latest announcement from the Mayor of London will reduce the burden on parents and carers across the capital, hit hard by rising costs, it is really good news.”

Nikita Sinclair, Head of Children’s Health and Food Programme, Impact on Urban Health, said: “It’s fantastic that this policy has been extended for another academic year. Free school meals remain a key way to ensure all children receive the nutrition they need to learn and thrive in school, and to support households under financial pressure. Children across the country deserve the same chance – national government needs to follow suit and urgently expand entitlement to free school meals.”

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