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Marcus Rashford and Jamie Oliver write to Boris Johnson calling for an urgent review of free school meals

Marcus Rashford
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#ENDCHILDFOODPOVERTY – @MarcusRashford MBE and @jamieoliver write to @BorisJohnson calling for an urgent review of free school meals 

Anna Taylor, Executive Director Food Foundation said:  “How our country’s most needy children are fed should be a top government priority.  School food has lurched from one crisis to another in the last few months. It’s time for a root and branch review to put in place the provision needed and help our children recover from the tragedy which this pandemic has inflicted.”

The Letter has been signed by Marcus Rashford, Jamie Oliver, Dame Emma Thompson, Tom Kerridge, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and over 40 major NGO’s, Charities and Educational Leaders 

This follows the call from the Food Foundation for Government to act urgently to protect the 4 million children living in poverty in the UK many of whom are not currently receiving Free School Meals 

 2.3 million children experienced food insecurity and during the 2020 summer holidays 850,000 children reported that they or their families visited a food bank (Food Foundation)  

In light of recent developments on current food provision for Free School Meal pupils during Covid-19 school closure, a letter signed by Marcus Rashford MBE, Jamie Oliver, Dame Emma Thompson, Tom Kerridge, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and over 40 NGOs, Charities and Education Leaders has today been sent to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling on the Government to conduct an urgent comprehensive review into Free School Meal policy across the UK to feed into the next Spending Review.   

The letter coordinated by the Food Foundation details the main areas the review should cover: 
 
It needs to: 

  1. Review the current eligibility thresholds for Free School Meals across all four nations to eliminate disparities and to explore whether disadvantaged children are being excluded in line with National Food Strategy recommendation. The ongoing eligibility for children with No Recourse to Public Funds should be considered explicitly.  
  2. Urgently consider how funding for Free School Meals can deliver the biggest nutritional and educational impact, supporting children’s learning and well-being throughout the school day and during the school holidays (including breakfast provision and the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme). This should include whether the current allowance for Free School Meals is adequate and whether funding for national breakfasts adequately covers all who would benefit from access to provision. 
  3. Explore how schools can be supported to deliver the best quality school meals which adhere to school food standards and which ensure the poorest children receive the best possible offer, including by introducing mandatory monitoring and evaluation on an ongoing basis of Free School Meal take-up, the quality/nutritional adequacy of meals, and how the financial transparency of the current system can be improved. 
  4. Consider what we have learned from Covid-19 and its impact on children in low-income families and the implications of this for school food policy for the next 5 years, as the country recovers. 
  5. Consider how existing school food programmes (such as Free School Meals, holiday and breakfast provision) can eliminate experiences of stigma for the poorest students. Review the impact that Universal Infant Free School Meals has had on stigma, health and education.  
  6. Consider the role of family income (wages and benefits) in enabling families to afford quality food in and outside of school time and during the holidays with choice and dignity.  

The process should involve input from all the devolved nations and done in consultation with children and young people, as well as teachers, charities, NGOs, frontline catering staff and school meals service providers. It should draw on evidence of food insecurity and health inequalities.   

LIST OF SIGNATORIES 

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Individuals  

Marcus Rashford MBE 
Jamie Oliver MBE 
Dame Emma Thompson 
Tom Kerridge 
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall  

Civil Society, Professional Bodies and Industry 

Anna Taylor OBE, Executive Director, Food Foundation 
Stephanie Slater, Founder/CEO, School Food Matters 
Naomi Duncan, Chief Executive, Chefs in Schools 
Mark Russell, Chief Executive, The Children Society 
Barbara Crowther, Coordinator, Children’s Food Campaign 
Paul Wright, Lead, Children’s First Alliance  
Andrew Forsey, CEO, Feeding Britain  
Rob Percival, Head of Policy, Soil Association 
Mark Game, CEO, The Bread and Butter Thing 
Clara Widdison, Head of Social Inclusion, Mayor’s Fund for London 
Stephen Forster, National Chair, LACA The School Food People 
Peter McGrath, Operational Director, Meals & More 
Bill Scott, Chair Poverty and Inequality Commission  
Lindsay Graham, Vice Chair Poverty and Inequality Commission 
Sabine Goodwin, Coordinator, Independent Food Aid Network UK 
Kieron Boyle, Chief Executive, Impact on Urban Health  
Sam Butters and Gina Cicerone, Co-CEOs, The Fair Education Alliance 
Melissa Green, General Secretary of the WI 
Jayne Jones, National Chair, ASSIST FM 
Alysa Remtulla, Head of Policy and Campaigns, Magic Breakfast 
Thomas Lawson, Chief Executive, Turn2Us  
Joseph Howes, Chief Executive, Buttle UK 
Graham Whitham, Director, Greater Manchester Poverty Action 
Judith Cavanagh, Coordinator, End Child Poverty Coalition 
Andy Elvin, CEO, TACT 
Irene Audain MBE, Chief Executive, Scottish Out of School Care Network 
Cara Cinnamon, CEO, Khulisa UK 
Dr. Nick Owen MBEC EO, The Mighty Creatives 
Joseph Howes, Chief Executive, Buttle UK 
Dr Wanda Wyporska, Executive Director, The Equality Trust 
Satwat Rehman, CEO, One Parent Families Scotland 
Claire Donovan, Campaigns Manager, End Furniture Poverty 
David Holmes CBE, CEO, Family Action 
Paddy Lillis, General Secretary, USDAW 
Alison Garnham, Chief Executive, Child Poverty Action Group  
James Toop, CEO, Biteback2030 
Jess McQuail, Director, Just Fair 
Sue Tanner, Oxford & District Action on Child Poverty, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Rose Hill & Donnington Advice Centre, Oxford 
Barbara Crowther, Coordinator, Children’s Food Campaign 
Jo Whitfield, CEO, Coop Retail 

Health Bodies  
Dr Max Davie, Officer for Health Improvement, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health 
Diane Ashby, Change Programme Director, The British Psychological Society 
Dr Ruth Allen, CEO, British Association of Social Workers 

Education Leaders 
Geoff Barton, General Secretary, Association of School and College Leaders.  
Emyr Fairburn, Headteacher, King’s Cross Academy 
Julian Drinkall, CEO, Academies Enterprise Trust 
Steve Taylor, CEO, Cabot Learning Federation  
Chris Tomlinson, CEO Co-op Academies Trust  
Catherine Barr, CEO, The Shared Learning Trust  
Susan Douglas, CEO, The Eden Academy Trust  
Elizabeth Wolverson OBE, Chief Executive, LDBS Academies Trusts (LAT and LAT2) 
Emma Knights OBE, Chief Executive, National Governance Association 
Louise Johns-Shepherd, Chief Executive, Centre for Literacy in Primary Education 
Russell Hobby, CEO, Teach First  
 

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