Letter from The Rt Hon Vicky Ford MP
We have received a response from our letter to Vicky Ford, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families.
In May, School Food Matters joined with the Children’s Food Campaign (CFC), Food Foundation, BiteBack 2030, Soil Association’s Food For Life, and Chefs in Schools, to write to both Vicky Ford, and Gavin Williamson as Secretary of State for Education. In our letter, we reminded the Government that hunger does not recognise term time dates, and highlighted the importance of ensuring continuity of school food services for all children in households currently affected by food insecurity, and by low or unpredictable income.
In her response, Under-Secretary Ford re-iterates that the Department for Education (DfE) has no plans to extend free school meal availability into future holiday periods, including the school summer holiday, despite acknowledging that support was needed during Easter and May half-term breaks because of ‘unprecedented levels of disruption and uncertainty’.
Every day at SFM we receive calls and emails to suggest that 'disruption and uncertainty' continues and we will do so throughout the summer holidays until children can return to school. This is not the time to abandon vulnerable families.
We will continue to campaign with other charities and organisations to fight for free school meal provision to continue through the summer holidays. In the meantime, if you have not yet signed the petition, you can do so here!
In other news ...
Many food campaigners were feeling a little anxious about the future of universal infant free school meals with government finances being stretched to the limit and a looming spending review.
An Opposition Day debate on free school meals has been scheduled.