Free holiday meals programme extended for another year

Mayor of London finds another £4m to continue the scheme and help families struggling with cost of living, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

credit MD Duran via Unsplash
credit MD Duran via Unsplash

Sadiq Khan has announced an extension to his free holiday meals programme – as new polling reveals 35% of London parents and carers are cutting back on food and essentials.

The London mayor launched the scheme as a one-year policy in April 2023 to help families with the cost of living, but on Thursday (18th) said he would commit £4m to keep it going for a further twelve months.

The scheme provides ready-made and cook-at-home meals to low-income families, thanks to a partnership between the mayor’s Fund for London and The Felix Project charity. The meals are distributed by a network of school holiday activities and charities.

The announcement comes just one week after Khan revealed plans to also extend his free school meals programme – which provides lunches to all primary school children during term time – to cover the 2024/25 academic year.

Khan said: “I’m immensely proud that our funding for free holiday meals has already helped to deliver more than ten million free meals to hundreds of thousands of London families and young people.

“Londoners continue to struggle with the cost of living crisis, with families worrying about how to feed their children, which is why I’m stepping in with a proposed £4m funding to deliver these vital meals for another year.”

Charlotte Hill OBE, CEO of The Felix Project, said: “We know free holiday meal provision is vital, the same as free school meals. For so many children it is the only way they are guaranteed to get a delicious, healthy meal during the school holidays.

“We are therefore delighted that the mayor has announced plans to extend funding to his free holiday meals programme.”

The mayor’s announcement came as new YouGov polling commissioned by City Hall found that 35% of parents or carers of children under 18 are buying less food and essentials, 41% said they are using less water, energy or fuel to keep costs down, while 30% are ‘financially struggling’, 13% are borrowing money from friends or family, and 14% said they are using more credit or going into debt.

More than 10.1 million holiday meals have so far been provided under the mayor’s programme, with over a million more expected to be given out by the end of the March this year.

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