More than half of children classed as living in poverty in Preston are missing out on free school meals.
According to figures released by The Children’s Society, 2,700 children are not getting access to free school meals despite living beneath the poverty line.
A proportion of these are children are not entitled to the meal. The figures are also made up by struggling families who are entitled to the free meals, but do not claim them.
The figures make Preston the highest in any region in the North West, ahead of areas like Blackburn, Oldham and Bootle in Liverpool.
The Children’s Society is calling on the government to make free school meals available to all children in poverty as part of their Fair and Square campaign.
Children are said to be living in poverty if they are in a household living on less than 60 per cent of median household income after the deduction of housing costs.
The Children’s Society chief executive Matthew Reed said: “It is shocking that huge numbers of children in poverty are missing out on a free school meal.
“Every child in poverty should be entitled to this vital support.
“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.”
In Fylde, 700 children in poverty are missing out on free school meals. In Lancaster and Fleetwood, there are 800. In Chorley there are 600, 26 per cent of children in poverty.
And in the Ribble Valley, there are 200, 19 per cent of those in poverty.
In South Ribble 600 children in poverty are missing out on free school meals, 30 per cent of all children in poverty.
Free school meals are offered to children of families who get Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance, families who earn less than £16,190, or work less than 16 hours per week.
Preston MP Mark Hendrick said: “I think it is a tragedy that children living in poverty are not collecting free school meals, either because they don’t qualify or because they don’t collect it.”
“Good nutrition affects children for the rest of their lives.
“Unless children are properly fed and nourished and are getting the food they need they won’t develop in school.
“I know of cases in schools I am visiting where they are having to take up breakfast clubs because children are not getting it at home.”
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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