Jo Nicholas, our Head of Evaluation, blogs for Society Central:
“…..there are two gaps which need addressing here: getting families to register for free school meals in the first place, then getting them to take up the meals once they have.
“Does it actually matter? Well, 3.6 million children are living in poverty in the UK today: that’s 27 per cent of children, or more than one in four. In some areas, 50 to 70 per cent of children are growing up in poverty. These children can’t afford to miss out on a nutritious meal, in every sense of the phrase: a better lunch at school improves children’s focus and performance in class. It’s a crucial factor: currently, by the age of 16, children eligible for free school meals achieve 1.7 SAT grades less than their wealthier peers. School lunch can also be the only proper meal of the day for a child living in poverty, and school meals still outdo the vast majority of packed lunches when it comes to nutrition both in primary and secondary schools.”