Free school meals for all, and in the holidays

Adam Gilman, Reading Socialist Party

It’s half term and an opportunity for children to get out of the stressful environment of school and have a break. But with the cost of living going up, and with food more expensive than ever, many children will be going hungry, their families unable to afford basic meals.

Marcus Rashford’s campaign for free school meals to continue through school holidays has been forgotten by the Tory government, refusing to issue half-term vouchers. Instead, it is being left to the red, yellow, blue and green Tory councils to decide whether the money is worth spending.

For a family to be eligible for free school meals in term time, it has to be entirely dependent on benefits, or receive Universal Credit and be on an income of less than £7,400 a year. Thousands of families in need do not qualify.

We say: provide free school meals for all, including through the holidays!

Some councils are funding meals for this half term. My local council in Reading is giving a £15 voucher for the whole half term, but £2.14 a day not enough.

Councils, including those run by Labour, Liberal and Green, are already cutting vital services. But councils could stop the cuts, and expand the provision of free school meals.

They should say to the government: ‘This is what our children need, make the millionaires and billionaires who are profiting out of the cost-of-living crisis pay for it!’ By taxing the rich and nationalising the school meals companies under democratic workers’ and students’ control, young people could be provided with free, healthy, delicious meals every day.