Hooray! Mayor of London to continue funding school lunches for all primary pupils

9 January 2024
Building on last year’s commitment of £130m, Sadiq Khan has announced plans to fund school lunches for all primary pupils in London for the 2024/25 school year.

In England, free school meals are guaranteed for state school students from Reception to Year 2 and for older pupils living in households receiving universal credit with income levels below £7,400 per year. However, these eligibility requirements leave an estimated 900,000 school-aged children living in poverty in England without access to free school meals.

Mayor Khan’s plan ensures that for another year all of London’s state primary school students, regardless of household income, have equal access to free school lunches. He reaffirmed his commitment to this action during a press conference:

Delivering free school meals has been one of my proudest moment as Mayor as I have seen the difference it has made to the children receiving them and to their families. I am thrilled to announce my intention to extend this lifeline for families for yet another year.

In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, Mayor Sadiq Khan’s investment could save families up to £1,000 over two years per child. The plan will cost £140 million, which includes an uplift in funding from last year's £2.65 to £3.00 per meal. This is significantly more than the rate of £2.53 which the UK government gives to schools for free school meals, and is vital to ensuring quality food and decent working conditions.

Three cheers for Mayor of London for continuing his investment in children’s health. This bold policy provides a vital safety net for the capital’s families and gives so many children the nutrition they need to thrive. It’s time for national leaders to step up and follow suit, so that every child can enjoy nutritious and delicious school food, regardless of their postcode or their parents’ pay-packet.”

  • Stephanie Slater, Founder/ Chief Executive, School Food Matters

We support this positive step as a part of the School Food Review’s ask to provide school meals for all students. We know there are extensive benefits to providing quality school meals, including improvements to children’s education, health, equity, and well-being. A 2022 cost-benefit analysis commissioned by Impact on Urban Health also estimated that extending free school meals to all school students has potential to increase financial returns by three times that of actions to only extend free school meals to those on universal credit.

We support the actions of Mayor Khan and hope that other boroughs will take his lead.

Read the Mayor’s plan here.