Many constituents have contacted me regarding supporting the provision of free school meals to children in poverty.
I wholeheartedly support Marcus Rashford and food poverty activists’ free school meal campaign in continuing to raise the issue of holiday hunger. Child poverty and holiday hunger were crises before the pandemic, but the economic impact of coronavirus has severely worsened the situation. As of January 2020, 3,604 children in Luton South were eligible for Free School Meals.
According to the Food Foundation, almost a fifth of households with children have been unable to access enough food, with meals being skipped and children not getting enough to eat. Recent research by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, for the End Child Poverty coalition, estimates that 37% of children in Luton South are living in poverty.
I voted in favour of the Labour Party’s motion calling on the government to provide free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021. This policy has been backed by the National Education Union (NEU), and the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL). Unfortunately, the government voted against the motion and stated that it will not provide free school meals to children in England over half term and Christmas.
I was elected on a manifesto that committed to introducing free school meals for all primary school children and encouraging breakfast clubs. Since becoming an MP last December, I have pressed the government on a number of occasions to deliver free school meals:
- 15th June 2020: Letter to Gavin Williamson MP calling for free school meals funding – https://www.facebook.com/RachelHopkinsMP/posts/283500339685325
- 16th June 2020: Government U-turn on Free School Meals- https://www.facebook.com/RachelHopkinsMP/posts/284402546261771
- 2nd July 2020: Tackling Child Poverty – https://www.facebook.com/RachelHopkinsMP/posts/295489395153086
- 14th October 2020: Early Day Motion 1013 on Child Poverty – https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/57572
Thank you again for writing to me about this. I will continue to campaign both in Parliament and beyond to make sure no child goes hungry.