500 pupils miss out on school dinners
HUNDREDS of children living below the poverty line in the Berwick constituency may be unable to afford a proper lunch but fail to qualify for free school meals, according to a new study.
Berwick ranks bottom in the north east in terms of children who could claim free school meals missing out on them, according to a new study.
The Childrens’ Association measured the numbers of children living in poverty who were not claiming the free school meals they were entitled to.
It estimated that 500 children in the area are deemed to be living in poverty and not receiving, for whatever reason, the lunches that they could.
This works out at around 36 per cent of the area’s children who live in poverty either going without a hot lunch or paying for their meal unnecessarily.
That is six times the rate of the Middlesbrough constituency, which has been described in recent months as one of the most deprived areas in the UK. It is also higher than the regional average of just 20 per cent.
The Children’s Society chief executive Matthew Reed said: “It is shocking that huge numbers of children in poverty in the north east are missing out on a free school meal. Every child in poverty should be entitled to support.
“We know from the families we work with up and down the county 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.”
A spokesperson told The Advertiser that the problem was usually more noticeable in the area’s secondary schools, where pupils use a cash system at lunchtime.
This is in contrast to the majority of the constituency’s primary schools, where a cashless system is the norm, which reduces the social stigma often associated with taking free school meals.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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