17 November 2022
Feed the Future campaign responds to Budget snub
Feed the Future and its coalition of supporters are deeply concerned the Chancellor has ignored the chorus of demands to protect children’s health by expanding Free School Meals in today’s Autumn Budget Statement.
The decision means at least 800,000 schoolchildren living in poverty in England will continue to be denied a hot, nutritious meal at school.
The Chancellor has ignored pleas to extend Free School Meals from education leaders and teachers, health professionals, chefs and caterers, supermarket bosses and MPs from across the political spectrum, including members of the current cabinet.
He has also ignored the voices of affected children, many of whom face the shame and anxiety of going without food at school, as well the support of constituents, with 72% of the public supporting expansion of Free School Meals to children from households on Universal Credit.
It is short-sighted for the Chancellor to ignore a policy intervention which expert analysis has shown will boost the economy by at least £8.9 billion over the next 20 years, improving health, educational attainment and workforce productivity.
Feed the Future is asking campaign supporters to write to their MPs immediately to urge them to demand that the Government reverses its decision and extend Free School Meals immediately.
The budget announcement comes just over a week after The Food Foundation staged a special event in Westminster in collaboration with our partners to showcase the benefits Free School Meals have on the academic attainment of children, attendance levels, and behaviour in class.
A recent survey also found two thirds of MPs support the expansion of Free School Meals.
There has been a huge amount of support for the campaign including from the English public, education leaders, health professionals and celebrities including Zayn Mailk, Dr Alex George and Dr Adam Kay, Dr Xand Van Tulleken, Tom Kerridge, Melissa Hemsley, Leyla Kazim and Jamie Oliver.
Anna Taylor, Executive Director of The Food Foundation, said: "The Chancellor’s decision to overlook the wealth of compelling evidence and groundswell of public support to extend Free School Meals is not just extraordinarily short-sighted; it lacks compassion.
"At a time of soaring taxes and inflation, this highly targeted intervention would have transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of children.
"Today’s budget has not deterred us from speaking up on behalf of these children - it has only served to stoke the fires of our campaign. It is now more important than ever to flood the inboxes of our MPs to request their support."