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Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats call for extension of free school meals

June 21, 2022 8:00 AM
Originally published by Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats

Cllr Hilde HendrickxAn adviser's suggestion to extend free school meals to 1.1 million extra children has been ignored by the government in their new, heavily criticised Food Strategy. The recommendation to extend free school meals to everyone on Universal Credit up to 16 was firstly watered down and then ignored by government. Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats are calling on the government to extend free school meals to all children on Universal Credit.

The government's food advisor, Henry Dimbleby, first suggested extending free school meals to everyone on Universal Credit up to 16 - a policy supported by the Liberal Democrats. However, this was watered down and a new recommendation was put forward to offer free school meals to all children in households with less than £20,000 in income. Despite the watered down recommendation, the government have still refused to include this policy in their latest Food Strategy.

Councillor Hilde Hendrickx, Chair of Children's Services OSC, said "This is yet another example of the government ignoring their own advisors and short-changing children, as they continue to lose out. The government either doesn't care or doesn't get it.

"It's common sense to expand free school meals to all children on Universal Credit - we are suffering a cost of living crisis where parents are worried about putting food on the table. Our children's health and education should be a top priority, but time and again under this government they are treated as a complete afterthought."

Bedford Borough Council have consistently ensured that funding has been available to provide free school meal vouchers to children during school holidays. Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats are now calling on the government to extend free school meals to more families who are struggling due to the cost of living crisis.

Councillor Hendrickx added "It is vital that our children can access a nutritious meal. There have been countless studies that show eating a healthy, balanced meal leads to improved mental and physical health, as well as boosting concentration levels so that children can get the most out of school and life. Why is this not a priority for the government?"