Haringey Council to expand free school meals programme
- Credit: Haringey Council
Haringey Council is set to expand its free school meals (FSM) programme from April.
Teachers in Haringey will be able to offer hungry children a free school meal at their discretion under plans to extend the existing scheme.
Proposed measures, which also include extending the scheme to families receiving short-term housing support from the council, are expected to impact 790 extra children who do not currently receive a meal or vouchers.
Haringey Council’s cabinet unanimously supported the new measures on Tuesday evening (January 19). They will be ratified at a full council meeting next month when the town hall's budget is presented for 2021/22.
At the meeting, Cllr Kaushika Amin, Haringey Council's education chief, said that the new measures would target families "under the most pressure from bills and rent".
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Cllr Amin said: "We are doing this because children are hungry at school. It is a moral catastrophe, but one that can be avoided."
Council figures show 40% of children in Haringey live below the poverty line.
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The scheme will last until April 2023, when it will be reviewed again by the council.
Currently, children whose parents are on Universal Credit and who have a net earning of less than £7,400 a year can receive FSMs.
Parents who are still using the old benefits system, who receive “guarantee credits” as part of their state pension or who are asylum seekers, can also apply for their children to receive FSMs.
The new measures would take into account children aged seven to 10 whose parents are on benefits and receive some housing support from the council, or children who have no recourse to public funds.
Funding will also be introduced for 25,000 extra meals every academic year which school staff can offer to children facing temporary hardship across the borough.
Previously, before the cabinet vote, Haringey Council's opposition leader Luke Cawley-Harrison (Liberal Democrat), spoke out in favour of wider FSM provision.
He said that "no child should go hungry just because it’s the school holidays".