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Why do half of children in poverty miss out on free school meals?
5:00pm Wednesday 13th March 2013 in News
AROUND half of all local children deemed to be living in poverty are missing out on free school meals, a children’s charity has claimed.
The situation is worst in Poole, according to the Children’s Society, where 62 per cent of children in poverty do not get a free school lunch.
The figure is 53 per cent in Bournemouth East, 52 per cent in both South and North Dorset, 51 per cent in Christchurch, 49 per cent in Bournemouth West and 42 per cent in Mid Dorset and North Poole.
The Children’s Society, through its Fair and Square campaign, is calling on the government to make free school meals available to all children in poverty. They use the government definition of poverty, which deems that a family is in poverty if their income, after housing costs, falls 60 per cent below the average.
Cllr Ben Grower, Bournemouth’s Labour group leader, said he was “appalled” by the research results. “This cannot be right,” he said. “A reassessment of the criteria must be looked at as a matter of extreme urgency.
“These are the very children who will be queuing with the families at food banks and yet fall outside the right to free school meals. This is an insupportable situation and must be challenged.”
Matthew Reed, chief executive of the Children’s Society, said: “We know from the families we work with up and down the country that parents are struggling to make ends meet. Right now, the government is reconsidering which children will be entitled to get free school meals. We urge the government to take this opportunity to make sure all children in poverty can get a free school meal.”