Cost of living crisis: Restrictive FSM eligibility criteria must be expanded, campaigners say

“We see the devastating reality of children coming to school unable to afford to buy lunch, because their family circumstances mean they fall outside the restrictive free school meal eligibility criteria.”

With 2.6 million children living in households that miss meals or struggle to access healthy food, now is the time to expand free school meal (FSM) provision.

Campaigners have written to chancellor Rishi Sunak and education secretary Nadhim Zahawi urging action.

They want to see FSM urgently extended to all families receiving Universal Credit as a stepping-stone to universal provision.

The letter has been coordinated by the Food Foundation, whose latest food insecurity tracking data (2022) shows that 2.6 million children live in households that missed meals or struggled to access healthy food. This means that 17.2% of homes with children are affected.

The data suggests that levels of food insecurity in households with children have risen by 42% since the beginning of 2022 due to the cost of living crisis among other things.

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