Over the Easter break, free school meal provision for children in the UK was extended to cover the holiday to ease the added financial pressure brought by the Covid-19 lockdown. Scotland and Wales will continue this support through the summer holiday period, but the government had said it would not be extended for pupils in England and Northern Ireland.
Bringing the issue into sharp focus, England and Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford led a passionate campaign imploring the government to perform a u-turn on a decision which the Department of Education originally said it would not be reversing. News emerging on Tuesday though indicates there has indeed been a u-turn and funding will be provided through the summer.
Using figures from The Food Foundation's Parliamentary Facts and Figures Briefing, this infographic gives an overview of the facts surrounding the issue in England. The latest government data has the number of children eligible for free school meals at 1.3 million. Although this number is likely to be higher due to Covid-19, this would make the cost of extending the provision for the six week summer break just £117 million (£15 per child, per week). Food Foundation polling indicates that at least 200,000 children have had to skip meals because their family couldn’t access sufficient food during lockdown.