Following the recent announcement that all primary school children in London will be able to receive free school meals for the next year, Erik N writes about the importance of ensuring all children have access to free healthy and nutritious food at school.
Recent research shows that almost 4 million children in the United Kingdom are living in food poverty – skipping meals, going hungry or not eating meals at all. Healthy food boosts children’s physical growth as well as their mental health. Children are our future and if they have access to healthy food like free school meals then it will help them to concentrate on their studies, which ultimately contributes positively to society and for the country in the future.
Food is a basic need for human beings and so for children. Lunch is an important meal of the day, providing basic nutrition during school time. Nowadays, schools provide eligible children a free school meal that is warm, fresh and delicious while non-eligible children bring their food from home. Children who bring a packed lunch from home may feel embarrassed in front of their friends if they do not have the same food, and thus feel downgraded. The food is not warm and may also not be as healthy. The eligibility criteria to get free school meals are questionable, and this needs to be rectified as soon as possible.
In Tower Hamlets borough, all primary school children are now getting free school meals regardless of their eligibility. Following a recent announcement by the Mayor of London, this is being rolled out to all primary school children in London. Now Tower Hamlets borough is thinking about introducing free school meals to all secondary school children. This is great news and hopefully this will roll out to all secondary schools in London soon.
There are growing pressures from the public to politicians to provide free school meals for all children in school, and football stars and celebrity chefs too are backing this campaign. It is very difficult nowadays to bear the cost of school meals for low-income families. Increased living costs and energy bills have already put low-income families in hardship and they are sinking in debt every day. Free meals available to children at school will relieve some of this financial burden.
So, government should now introduce free school meals for all children of school age in both primary and secondary schools regardless of eligibility. It is their right.