One million poor children ‘missing free school lunch’

More than one million children living in poverty in England are missing out on free school meals, according to research from a children's charity. The Children's Society says there are some areas where more than two-thirds of children in poverty are missing out.

The charity has produced an interactive map showing the situation in each of the 533 parliamentary constituencies in England.

Key points

  • In total, an estimated 1.2 million children living in poverty across England are missing out on free school meals.
  • Of these children, 700,000 are not even entitled to the meals, despite their need, often simply because their parents are working. Another 200,000 are entitled to free meals, but not registered; and 300,000 are entitled and registered but do not eat the meal each day.
  • There are 57 constituencies where more than six out of ten children living in poverty are not getting a free school meal.
  • The highest proportions of children missing out are in the east, south east, south west and London. The two joint worst constituencies are Horsham and Bognor Regis/Littlehampton at 69 per cent, closely followed by Mitcham/Morden and Arundel/South Downs at 68 per cent.
  • Only 22 constituencies have fewer than 10 per cent of children in poverty missing out.

To accompany the map, the charity published the results of a survey of teachers in England on food in schools. 72 per cent had experienced pupils coming into school with no lunch and no means to pay for one; 44 per cent said children were often or very often hungry during the school day; and 66 per cent said staff provide pupils with food or money if they come into school hungry.

Source: Laura Rodrigues, Food for Thought: A Survey of Teachers’ Views on School Meals, Children’s Society
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