Two leading Catholic agencies have welcomed today’s announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister that Free School Meals will be provided to all children in reception, year one and two and that free school meals will be extended to cover to disadvantaged students in further education and sixth form colleges. CSAN (Caritas Social Action Network) and the CES (Catholic Education Service) have backed the measure as a positive move to tackle food poverty in schools.
Welcoming the announcement, Greg Pope, Deputy Director of the Catholic Education Service said:
“Today’s announcement will welcomed by teachers, who are reporting an increasing number of children coming to school hungry. It will also be a relief for parents, managing tight budgets, and struggling to afford to meet basic living costs. We hope that this move will go some way towards ending the scandal of food poverty in schools”
Helen O’Brien, Chief Executive of CSAN added:“The extension of free school meals for the youngest children in our schools and the end to the anomaly of provision at sixth form colleges will reduce levels of food poverty and boost educational attainment. However, it is important that older children living in poverty are not overlooked. CSAN and CES have consistently called for all children from disadvantaged backgrounds to be entitled to free school meals. For many families we work with, the entitlement to free school meals is the only way of ensuring that their child has at least one healthy meal a day.”
The Catholic Education Service is an agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in England and Wales, and works closely with the 2300 Catholic schools, colleges and university colleges which the Church is responsible for across England and Wales.
CSAN is the official social action agency of the Catholic Church and comprises over 40 Catholic charities, many of whom work closely with children and families living in poverty.
CSAN and CES are both signatories of The Children’s Society, ‘Fair and Square campaign’, which seeks to ensure that all children living in poverty receive free school meals.