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Nine in ten parents say Government should provide healthy free school meals for all children in poverty

92% per cent of parents support extension of free school meal eligibility to all children living in very low-income families, according to new research from Children’s Food Campaign and Food Active. Parents also agree that eligibility should be based on income, regardless of immigration status (89%). 

The survey conducted with over 750 parents across the UK gained insights on how the Covid-19 lockdown has impacted their children’s food intake.  

  • One in three (31%) reported it was harder to maintain healthy eating habits whilst children were at home 
  • 7 in 10 parents reported that their children ate more snacks in lockdown 
  • Children ate more crisps (35%), ice creams and lollies (46%), cakes and biscuits (40%), sweets and chocolate (30%). 

When parents were asked their views on the Government’s commitment to fund free school meals and healthy food policies: 

  • 9 in 10 parents (90%) agreed that the Government should review eligibility to make free school meals available to ALL children in poverty. Parents also agreed that eligibility should be based on income, regardless of immigration status (89%). 
  • More than 8 in 10 parents (83%) would also like to see holiday food provision available for all children eligible for Free School Meals.   

The results of the research are in line with the call from the new child poverty campaign spearheaded by footballer Marcus Rashford for Government to support the three National Food Strategy recommendations on children’s food programmes in the Chancellor’s Spending review and Autumn Budget.    

For more information: Research briefing Covid-19 and Children’s Food: Parents’ Priorities for Building Back Better or a presentation of the full findings.

View our COVID-19 tracker in full.