City Hall has highlighted “hundreds of thousands of low-income families” across London receiving free meals during the current school holidays with financial support from Sadiq Khan, and released new opinion poll findings suggesting that one third of households with children in the capital may be going without “basic needs”, taking on debt to pay for them, or generally struggling to make ends meet.
Over a 12-month period which began in April in response to the soaring cost of living, the Mayor has allocated £3.5 million towards the cost of providing the free meals during school holiday periods through a network of London charities, City Hall says, adding that this will amount to around 10 million meals in all.
Most of the money has been given to two charities, the Mayor’s Fund for London and the Felix Project, to expand their existing holiday meals programmes, which sees food distributed by hundreds of small local organisations and schools, which also put on activities for children. The Felix Project has been given £425,000 of the money specifically to enable it to deliver food on Saturdays as well as on weekdays.
In February, Khan announced he would be giving £130 million to London’s primary schools so they can offer free school meals to every child in the capital throughout the forthcoming 2023/24 academic year, rather than only those eligible under national government criteria. In June, Susan Hall, the Labour Mayor’s Conservative challenger for next year’s election, said that, if elected, she would maintain and extend the policy “for as long as the cost of living situation requires it”.
Nearly half of respondents to the opinion poll of just under 1,000 Londoners with children under the age of 18, conducted by YouGov for City Hall last last month, said they expect to have difficulty paying for their usual food and essential items over the coming six months and 13 per cent – around one in eight – said they were already going without these.