Liberal Democrats call for free school meals for all primary school children

Oldham’s Liberal Democrat leader councillor Howard Sykes MBE has called for free school meals to be extended to all children aged 11 and under.

Currently the policy is only in place for children aged up to seven, but child poverty is on the rise in Oldham and Liberal Democrat councillors are calling for all primary school children to be offered a warm meal at lunchtime.

Councillor Sykes said: “Free school meals are a lifeline for so many families in Oldham. For some children, this might be the only warm meal they get in a day; and we know that a nutritious lunch helps children focus in the classroom. The problem is that too few children are getting this opportunity and in Oldham, where a disproportionate number of our children are living in poverty, we need something much more ambitious.”

Howard Sykes

Nationally, child poverty is estimated at 27% with the charity ‘Child Poverty Action’ stating that eight children in every classroom of 30 are suffering the effects of poverty. But in Oldham, rates are much higher, with as many as 14 per class affected according to data provided by the National Education Union (NEU).

Councillor Sykes said: “It’s time for the government to extend free school meals to all primary school children. It would be one of the most meaningful steps we could take to tackle child poverty and improve attainment at schools.”

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