The Rye News article on free school meals and explanation by Sally-Ann Hart , our local Member of Parliament, of her support for the initial government policy not to supply them during half term and the holidays, inevitably attracted plenty of comments from our readers.
We asked Rye College for their view and Executive Head, Barry Blakelock, was kind enough to explain the school’s position: “School meals have been with us in a variety of forms since the Education Act of 1944 and ‘Universal infant free school meals’ have seen a steady rise in take-up since their introduction in 2014.
“All schools and Foodbanks recognise the phenomenon of “holiday hunger” with an increase in demand for support whilst we are closed. Rye College and Community Primary School are pleased to have been able to assist families during the lockdown as part of the national response and remain committed to helping those that need immediate help to feed their children.
“However, there are limits to which any school can offer such support therefore, for reasons of funding and scale, any expansion to universal or targeted provision can only be a matter for central government.”
The policy has been changed
The government had made provision for assistance to those in need through Universal Credit and also through funding supplied to local authorities (although the latter was, inevitably, claimed by local authorities to be insufficient). However, feeding children is an emotive subject, and the official explanation of help was always going to be a PR disaster.
This was finally realised and, as we now know, the policy has been changed and free meals will continue to be supplied over the Christmas holidays, thus ensuring that the Prime Minister’s pledge, a few weeks ago, that no child need go hungry over Christmas, was honoured, not just in theory, but also in practice.
Image Credits: Rye News library .