Shropshire Star

Watch: Children are so hungry at school they're 'eating rubbers' and have empty lunch boxes

Children are eating rubbers and pretending to eat from empty lunch boxes because they don't qualify for free school meals, MPs have heard.


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During a debate on the provision of free school meals, Munira Wilson MP, Liberal Democrat education spokesperson, said: “A child pretending to eat out of an empty lunchbox because they do not qualify for free school meals and do not want their friends to know that there is no food at home.

"A child coming into school having not eaten anything since lunch the day before, so hungry that they are eating rubbers at school; and a child hiding in the playground because they do not think they can get a meal—all stories from schools in England today. This has to stop.”

The Child Poverty Action Group says at least 900,000 children living in poverty in England are said to be missing out on free school meals due to the government threshold.

Schools Minister Damian Hinds said: “We spend over £1 billion per annum delivering free school lunches to the greatest ever proportion of school children - over a third.”

Labour's policy is to provide breakfasts for all pupils, not lunches.

Who is eligible for free school meals?

All children at state schools in England are entitled for free school meals from reception up to year 2. Year 3 to 6 pupils from households in receipt of eligible benefits are also entitled to free school meals.

In January, London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced the extension of Universal Free School Meals for state primary school children in London for the 2024/25 academic year.