Almost one in four now eligible for free school meals – but many children still miss out

Almost one in four pupils in state-funded education now qualify for free school meals (FSMs), however restrictive eligibility criteria still prevent many living in poverty from accessing a free school lunch.

The latest pupil census information (DfE, 2022) shows that 1.9 million pupils were eligible for FSM as of January 2022 – equating to 22.5% of the student population and an increase of nearly 160,000 since January 2021 and of around 450,000 since January 2020.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis is pushing many families into poverty, with almost one million children thought to be living in “food insecure” households.

However, one in three children living in disadvantaged families are missing out on FSM because they are not eligible – equating to around 800,000 students, according to the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG).

Register now, read forever

Thank you for visiting SecEd and reading some of our content for professionals in secondary education. Register now for free to get unlimited access to all content.

What's included:

  • Unlimited access to news, best practice articles and podcast

  • New content and e-bulletins delivered straight to your inbox every Monday and Thursday


Already have an account? Sign in here