More than 3.5m free meals were provided to children from low-income families across the capital during the school summer holiday, thanks to funding from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.
Sadiq’s £3.5m emergency free holiday meals programme has benefitted hundreds of thousands of low-income families since it was launched in April, with more than 5.5m meals in total already given out over school holidays and weekends.
The Mayor is urging Ministers to do more to help families struggling with the cost of living as startling polling from YouGov, commissioned by City Hall, shows 24 per cent of parents or carers with children under 18 are ‘financially struggling’, with 60 per cent stating that they are having to go without their basic needs and/or relying on debt (8 per cent), struggling to make ends meet (16 per cent) or ‘just about managing’ (36 per cent).
In April, the Mayor stepped forward with a one-off emergency funding package that will provide around 10m nutritious meals to struggling families and children of all ages during school holidays and at weekends over the course of 12 months.
The Mayor’s support has expanded the work of the Mayor’s Fund for London and The Felix Project, and is enabling charities and grassroots organisations to reach hundreds of thousands of struggling families over the school holidays and at weekends. Children of all ages and their families are able to receive free food through a variety of programmes at community hubs and centres across London.
During term-time, up to 287,000 primary school children at London’s state schools are now benefitting from the Mayor’s unprecedented free school meals programme. Families in every borough in the capital could save upwards of £440 per child across the next year, after the Mayor introduced the historic one-off funding to help Londoners struggling with the cost of living.
The Mayor continues to call upon the Government to step up and match his commitment to tackling the burgeoning issue of child hunger by increasing funding to ensure that all children in food-insecure households in London can access food. Currently, the Government’s criteria for holiday support excludes approximately half of children in food-insecure households, while the funding that is provided is insufficient.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “It’s shocking that so many Londoners are struggling to feed their families due to the rising cost-of-living. That is why I have provided more than £3.5m in emergency funding to help hundreds of thousands of Londoners feed their families during the school holidays and at weekends, and have ensured all primary school children at London’s state schools are offered free school meals this year.
“I’m hugely proud that more than 5.5m free holiday meals have been given to Londoners so far since April, with more than 3.5m delivered during the summer holidays alone, but more has to be done to help.
“I will continue to do all I can to support Londoners in need, as we build a fairer city for everyone, but I urge Government to step up and use its powers fully to ensure children aren’t going hungry.”
Charlotte Hill OBE, CEO of The Felix Project, said: “We understand that so many parents felt really worried about how they would afford to feed their children during the long summer break. Holidays are always a busy time for support services like food banks, pantries and holiday programmes – who we know are already stretched – every single organisation we support wants more food and there over 650 more on our waiting list – all in desperate need.
“We are delighted that over the summer holiday – thanks to support from the Mayor of London - we have been able to help deliver this incredible number of meals that will have helped so many during these challenging times.”
Jim Minton, Chief Executive, Mayor’s Fund for London, said: “The Mayor’s funding has allowed us to offer more wrap-around support to community organisations and local authorities this summer, including holiday meals and activities, recipe boxes with nutritional information and signposting to wider cost of living advice.
Working in partnership with community based organisations, the support we offer is always delivered on an inclusive basis, with no requirement of eligibility from any child or family. At a time when so many more families are struggling financially, providing food and access to wider resources are vital in reaching the most vulnerable children and families.”