Children in the UK are still going hungry in 2020. We are focusing on two key policy issues to help make sure this becomes a thing of the past.
In September 2017, Frank Field MP introduced a Bill to the House of Commons, with cross-party backing, which sought to enact Feeding Britain’s main recommendations on countering hunger amongst children during school holidays. The Bill would give local authorities both the duties and the resources they need to facilitate meal and fun projects during school holidays
At the Bill’s second reading in January 2018, the Minister for Children and Families confirmed that the Government would provide funding for research and pilots on holiday provision, due to begin in Summer 2018. These pilots were repeated in 2019 and 2020, and led to additional support being pledged by the Government in its 2019 Queen’s Speech.
Feeding Britain has been working closely with the Department for Education (DfE) to help inform the initial research and pilots, as well as the follow-up work.
Maximising take-up of free school meals and Healthy Start vouchers
Free school meals and Healthy Start vouchers make a huge difference to families, and we want to ensure that as many children as possible benefit from the support they are entitled to. By moving to automatic registration, where eligible children are identified and automatically signed up, rather than their parents having to apply individually, local authorities can dramatically increase take-up rates.
Wirral Council work with Feeding Britain to adopt automatic registration for free school meals in 2016, a move which benefitted 600 additional children and generated over £725,000 in Pupil Premium funding. We are calling for changes to national policy to remove some of the barriers that currently make it difficult for local authorities to adopt this approach.
Separately, Feeding Britain has been working with Citizens UK and the Department for Education on solutions to help children roll over unused free school money, on their cards, which can improve the quantity and quality of food they consume across the school week.
School breakfast provision
Following a School Breakfast Summit in January 2020, Feeding Britain began working with Emma Lewell-Buck MP on a School Breakfast Bill which would scale up the reach and coverage of the National School Breakfast Programme, to ensure that every child who arrives at school hungry can receive a free breakfast before the day’s lessons begin.