Following a major public campaign, which saw charities, food organisations and campaigners working together, the Government has announced a funding package to help alleviate child food poverty.

The #Endchildfoodpoverty campaign urged the Government to introduce three key reforms from the National Food Strategy Part 1 – written by our chair, Henry Dimbleby, which would combat child food poverty.

While the new funding package does not adopt all of the recommendations, it does offer significant improvements, including:

  • £170m Covid Winter Grant Scheme to support children, families and the most vulnerable over winter

  • Holiday Activities and Food programme to be expanded, covering Easter, Summer and Christmas in 2021

  • Healthy Start payments set to rise from £3.10 to £4.25 a week from April 2021

Naomi Duncan, Chief Executive of Chefs in Schools, said: “This is a significant step forwards on an issue so many of us care about – 1.1 million people signed Marcus Rashford’s petition calling for change.

“The Government’s funding programmes will improve the lives of more than 1.7million children over the next 12 months.  It represents significant progress on two of the three calls from the National Food Strategy Part 1 – written by our chair, Henry Dimbleby.

“However, a similar number of disadvantaged children – around 1.7 million – will continue to miss out on the benefits of free school meals and healthy start vouchers because the qualifying income criteria is currently set far too low. 

“Children’s food poverty has been exacerbated by the pandemic and will not go away until we have lasting solutions in place. Whilst we welcome this news and thank the Government for taking action, we will continue to call for the extension of free school meals to all children living in poverty. There is still work to do.”

 

WHAT’S IN THE ANNOUNCEMENT?

 

The Food Foundation has analysed the progress against the three asks in the National Food Strategy and Marcus Rashford’s petition:

 

Ask Number 1: Expand free school meals to all under-16s where a parent or guardian is in receipt of Universal Credit or equivalent benefit (estimated cost £670 million; 1.5 million additional children expected to benefit).   Currently you can only receive free school meals if your family’s income is <£7400 per year after tax and before benefits.

NO PROGRESS YET

 

Ask Number 2: Provide meals & activities during all holidays (estimated to cost £500million per year) for children on free school meals.

FOR CHRISTMAS TO EASTER: WELFARE ASSITANCE GRANTS FOR LOCAL AUTHORITIES TO GIVE OUT TO NEEDY HOUSEHOLDS FOR FOOD AND BILLS FROM DEC 1 UNTIL END  MARCH – COVERING THE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS –  £170M; £16M FOR FOOD DISTRIBUTION CHARITIES FOR CHRISTMAS.

EASTER ONWARDS: £220M ON HOLIDAYS ACTIVITIES AND FOOD PROGRAMME FOR EASTER, SUMMER AND CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS IN 2021 FOR ALL LOCAL AUTHORITIES IN ENGLAND.

THESE PROGRAMMES SHOULD REACH ALL CHILDREN ON FREE SCHOOL MEALS AND THE WELFARE ASSISTANCE GRANTS WILL GO BEYOND. CURRENT GOVERNMENT FIGURES ARE THAT 1.4 MILLION CHILDREN ARE ON FREE SCHOOL MEALS BUT THIS NUMBER IS EXPECTED TO HAVE RISEN SIGNIFICANTLY SINCE THE START OF THE PANDEMIC.

 

Ask Number 3: Increase the value of Healthy Start vouchers to at least £4.25 per week and expand the scheme to reach more children.

COMMITMENT TODAY TO INCREASE THE VALUE OF THE VOUCHER TO £4.25 FROM £3.10; NO COMMITMENT YET TO EXPAND THE SCHEME TO MORE CHILDREN. CURRENTLY ABOUT 500,000 PREGNANT WOMEN AND CHILDREN UNDER 4 IN ENGLAND ARE ELIGIBLE FOR THE SCHEME.

Find out more about the campaign to #EndChildFoodPoverty