Students in families that used food banks during the pandemic scored almost half a GCSE grade lower per subject on average.

Furthermore, 1 in 10 young people were living in food insecure households during Covid, while a third of young people in families using food banks during the pandemic were not eligible for free school meals (FSMs).

The findings come from the on-going COVID Social Mobility and Opportunities (COSMO) study. They reveal a concerning – but sadly not surprising – link between food insecurity, mental health, and GCSE grades, heightening fears about the extent of the long-term impact of the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis on young people.

The new paper – entitled Financial inequalities and the pandemic (Cullinane et al, 2023) – finds that 81% of parents who report financial struggles – and 54% of young people – are at high risk of psychological distress.

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