Merton families set to benefit from free school lunches
Parents can soon save up to £400 a year on school lunches as the government plan to provide free school lunches for children under eight.
Nearly 8000 children in Merton are set to benefit from the change which will come into action in September 2014.
Those in reception, year one and year two will be affected by the change, brought about by pilot studies and research that found children given free school meals do much better academically than those without.
This new policy will be a dramatic improvement from six months ago when a report from the Children’s Society revealed 68 per cent of children living in poverty in Mitcham and Morden were not receiving free school meals.
The report, in March, found 5,100 children in the area were not able to receive the meals due to their parents’ low incomes which prompted calls from the Children’s Society and various MPs to change the criteria for being able to receive hot meals.
At the time of the damning report, MP for Mitcham and Morden, Siobhan McDonagh, spoke of the importance of meals being provided for young learners.
She said: "It is clear thousands of children are missing out on free school meals because their parents go out to work.
It’s important for our young people to eat well if they are to learn properly and I think it’s right to look into ways to help low-paid working families like increasing the eligibility for free school meals."
The criteria previously stated that parents that worked less than 24 hours a week, 16 for a single parent and those claiming any kind of benefits were the only people that would have their children eligible for receiving free school lunches.
This meant parents that did work but earned a low income would not receive any help whatsoever.
Today, the government is set to provide children with free meals regardless of their parents’ backgrounds and even plan to provide meals for disadvantaged sixth form and higher education students.
Sarah Ludford, Liberal Democrat and MEP for Merton said: "We are determined to ease the financial burden for these families."
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