Sep 18th, 2013
Victory: Free School Meals
By Rebecca Falcon
In February, thousands of 38 Degrees members joined forces with the Children’s Society to call for more children to be given free school meals. Pupils from Conisborough College in Lewisham joined in, carrying our petition straight to Downing Street.
Last night, we had a breakthrough. Nick Clegg announced that free school meals would be extended to all infant pupils. That’s 1.4 million more school children who will be getting a hot, healthy lunch. What a brilliant victory!
Lily Caprani from the Children’s Society has been in touch to say:
“This is a historic step forward and a major victory for our campaign. Thanks to every 38 Degrees member who helped make this possible.”
38 Degrees members voted to get involved in this campaign because the Britain we want to live in is one where children aren’t hungry. Thousands of us have signed the petition and emailed the government directly. This new policy will help ensure that every young child in reception, year 1 and 2 gets at least one decent, nutritious meal per day. You don’t need to be an education expert to know that this will make it much easier for children to concentrate and learn.
Sadly, there is still much more to do to tackle all the problems of poverty which affect over 1 million children in the UK today. We still need the government to take even greater steps to lift other school children, not covered by this announcement, out of poverty. With benefits being cut, unemployment high, and food banks on the rise, this is no time to feel complacent. But this is a step in the right direction that will help lots of children. And we helped make it happen.
So let’s celebrate what we did. And let’s hope it makes us even more determined to campaign for a Britain where no child grows up in poverty.
PS: Moments like this show just how terrible it would be to bring in new laws to stop charities, voluntary groups, and campaigning organisations speaking up on important issues. The gagging law currently going through parliament could restrict groups like 38 Degrees or The Children’s Society from running campaigns like this in the future. You can find out more about why it’s such a threat by clicking here to watch a short video.