One in four children receiving Breakfast Boxes cannot access free school meals

24 March 2021

We looked at the profiles of the children receiving our Breakfast Boxes and found that one in four are not entitled to free school meals (FSM).

In July 2020, we asked schools about the children receiving our Breakfast Boxes. Across 59 participating schools, the proportion of children on the school roll eligible for FSM was 31% in Lambeth and 32% in Southwark. 

We asked schools again in February 2021 and received data from 80 out of 128 participating schools. We saw an increase in the proportion of children eligible for FSM, showing 33% in Lambeth and 35% in Southwark.

The research also demonstrated that food insecurity goes far beyond those entitled to FSM. In summer 2020, almost one in five children receiving the breakfast boxes were not eligible for FSM but deemed vulnerable to food insecurity by the school. Moreover, this figure now sits at one in four children identified by their schools as needing support who cannot access free school meals.  

Schools have told us that stigma is a barrier to some families, “We sent a form to parents asking if they needed a breakfast box and gave a choice of grounds (FSM, Universal Credit or no recourse to public funds). Families are known to the school. Some just will not complete a FSM form.” Another school stated, “We find that sometimes pride is a barrier to accepting the box, however we persevere with these families.

These findings support what we know: that the income threshold for FSM eligibility is set too low, meaning that vulnerable children are missing out. This is why School Food Matters supports the recommendations from the National Food Strategy Part One, specifically to expand entitlement to free school meals, and has asked the Government to consider this as part of a review of school food policy.


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