Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 26th July 2022.
Preloaded charge cards have been found to reduce stigma attached to free school meals. Will you commit to looking into this and other measures to increase uptake of free school meals in London?
It is for individual schools to determine how best to manage payments, but the vast majority already use cashless systems such as preloaded cards. A recent national survey of 300,000 parents found that only 10% still use cash for school meals and 8 in 10 said “cash payments are a thing of the past”.
Yet we know issues with uptake, such as stigma, still remain and recent analysis by the Children Poverty Action Group shows that 1 in 3 children in poverty in England still don’t qualify for free school meals. I will therefore continue to campaign for universal free school meals so that all children receive at least one healthy meal a day.
I will also continue to support families through my Cost of Living Hub which signposts free school meals and is being promoted to key audiences, including families, through partner networks and a social media campaign.