Children missing out on free school meals in Scunthorpe

According to the latest figures, over a quarter of children from poverty stricken families in Scunthorpe are missing out on a hot meal by not being eligible for free school dinners. The data has been collated by the The Children’s Society, which shows that 900 children in the town aren’t eligible for the free meals, despite being within the definition of poverty. This number equates to 27% of those within this category of poverty, with the Brigg area coming a close second with 700 children, or 35%, missing out.

The Children’s Society defines poverty as those who have an income that falls 60% below the national average. The normally entitlement to free school meals is if there is a lone parent working less than 16 hours per week, or less than 24 for a couple. If parents work more than this, children will not get a free school meal, even if they earn less than those working less hours.

One mum who has a 5 year old daughter at the Oasis Academy says that as she works self employed for 16 hours a week her daughter isn’t eligible, and she has to pay £10 a week for her school dinners. As she points out, having more than one child will mean many really struggling to find the money. She strongly feels that the rules need to be changed as others who are in virtually the same circumstances benefit from free school meals and she is missing out.

Another mum reiterates this and says she gets tax credits so doesn’t qualify for free school meals. She has two children which costs her £20 a week for dinners and believes the system should work on total income, and not with the exclusions it has at the moment. Across the UK, it’s estimated that some 700,000 children with low income families are missing out on free school meals, and these are the ones already struggling the most with ever increasing costs of food and other household bills.


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