Our charity welcomes the news from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will continue funding free school meals for London’s state primary school children for the next academic year as the cost-of-living crisis continues to hit families across the country.

This £135m programme, which is currently supporting up to 287,000 children across the capital was due to end this year but has now been extended for another year from September. With a proposed spend of £140m in his 2024/25 budget to do so, the programme will continue to aid parents financially, reduce stigma for those who receive the meals and help to improve nutrition and school engagement.

Our Chief Executive, Naomi Duncan, said:

“We’re delighted to hear that the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, is extending Universal Primary Free School Meals. We’ve seen first-hand the huge benefits this policy has had since its introduction. By extending the programme, the Mayor is ensuring that hundreds of thousands of children in London continue to receive the benefits of a hot, nutritious meal every school lunchtime. 

“The initiative was a landmark moment in the fight for greater access to vital nutrition for young children, never more important than now in the context of rapidly increasing malnutrition and food poverty. A meal in school provides that nutritional safety net, but also fuel for learning and a vital opportunity for education about food.

“Action is now needed nationwide to end the postcode lottery of access to a hot school lunch which is determined by age and location.”

Announcing the policy extension, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

“Delivering free school meals has been one of my proudest moments 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.

This action must inspire all politicians of all parties to end this postcode and age lottery of access. Meals in school should be a properly, centrally funded investment in child health and education. Kids are the future, let’s feed them like it.