Expanding Free School Meal Provision

January 17, 2021 9:33 AM

Child enjoying a free school mealOn 25th November Lib Dem councillors put forward a motion at the Full Council meeting supporting the Child Food Poverty Taskforce's call for Free School Meals to be expanded to cover all children whose families are in receipt of Universal Credit or on a low income, and that food vouchers be made available for school holidays and lockdowns.

At Council Cabinet on 13th January, a report was presented which was supposed to deal with all that the November Council motion asked for. Unfortunately it only covered children who are eligible for Free School Meals, rather than all children in poverty. At the meeting Lib Dem Group Leader Cllr Ruth Skelton asked why this was, and what would be done for low income families not entitled to Free School Meals. "I got an answer that was rather like waffle," said Cllr Skelton. "It seems Derby's Tory leaders are expecting schools to identify these children."

The motion to Council also required that letters be sent to the Secretary of State for Education, the Secretary of State for Health and the Chancellor of the Exchequer asking them to implement the recommendations of the Child Food Poverty Taskforce. Ruth asked if they had been sent and asked for copies of the letters. The answer was no they had not been sent, but would be imminently.

Lib Dem campaigner Farhatullah Khan, who helped organise lunches for children over the autumn half term holiday, said, "I'm appalled that the Tories would choose not to give help to all children living in poverty. The fact they haven't sent the letters to government ministers shows that children in poverty are of no importance to them."