1,200 children in poverty miss out on free school meals

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An estimated 1,200 children living in poverty in Bury St Edmunds are missing out on vital free school meals, a charity has revealed.

The figures represent 49 per cent of all children in poverty in the town who are not getting the free meals, according to The Children’s Society.

It compares to 1,800 pupils in West Suffolk, 1,400 in Suffolk Central and Ipswich North, 1,400 in the South of the county, 2,600 in Ipswich, 2,600 in Waveney and 1,600 in Suffolk Coastal.

Pupils are eligible if their parents are not working, a single parent works less than 16 hours a week or a couple work less than 24 hours a week.

If they work more than that - regardless of how little they earn - they are not eligible, according to the charity.

Bosses at the charity are now calling on the Government to ensure all children in poverty get a free school meal.

Chief Executive Matthew Reed said: “It is shocking that huge numbers of children in poverty in the East of England 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.”