Free school meals for all pupils - finally something all voters can agree on - and politicians should listen

There have been calls to expand the free school meals scheme to all primary-aged children (Credit: Getty Images)There have been calls to expand the free school meals scheme to all primary-aged children (Credit: Getty Images)
There have been calls to expand the free school meals scheme to all primary-aged children (Credit: Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images
Jamie Oliver is among those backing a campaign to expand the free school meals scheme, and its gaining cross-party support from voters

In a time where it feels like everything in politics is dividing those on either side of the party line, there has emerged a topic which appears to be unifying voters.

In a survey commissioned by School Food Review, it found that of the 3,000 adults in England, 82% of prospective Labour voters backed expanding the free school meals scheme to include more pupils. In the same breath a majority (53%) of prospective Conservative voters also agreed.

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More than 70% of all respondents agreed that the threshold of the household earning less than £7,500 per year on Universal Credit in England was also either too low or should be scrapped altogether

In an even more astonishing statistic from the survey, it seems that the topic of free school meals may even be a big enough issue for voters to sway to another party when a General Election is announced. Almost one quarter (23%) of those who voted Tory in 2019 said that they would be more likely to switch to voting Labour if the party were to pledge an expansion of the scheme, while 18% of those planning to vote Tory in the next election said that they could be swayed by the issue to vote Labour.

The proof is in the pudding - voters are calling out for action on this and it's an easy win for politicians to pick up some points and maybe even do some good in helping school kids in the process.

It feels as though politicians have been long behind the public's thinking on this. The government was arguably humiliated after the brilliant work by footballer Marcus Rashford, whose child poverty campaign heavily contributed to the decision to extend free school meals during the summer holidays.

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Long-time food campaigner and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has also joined the calls. He said of the campaign: “We know that nourishing young minds with nutritious food is an investment in their future, boosts our economy and our health."

Free school meals for all primary-aged pupils in London state-funded school has already been introduced by Mayor Sadiq Khan. Khan has in the past spoken out about his reliance on free meals at school when he was a child and the benefits that gave him.

At a time where it feels like schools are literally crumbling, this would set a marker by the government's education department which would really cement the commitment to the future of this country. When children are sitting in buildings about to collapse from dodgy concrete, being taught by teachers stretched to the limit, in a school where budgets have been cut, a little food could go a long way.

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