Property developers are paying for Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s pilot scheme of offering children free school meals, The Guardian has reported.
The meals are for breakfast and lunch irrespective of income, with around 10,700 children set to benefit. Property developers are funding it as part of their agreed conditions for being granted planning permission.
Alison Garnham, the chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said: “Poverty and hunger exclude children from some learning and social opportunities and leave them exposed to stigma and shame. This pilot recognises the scale of the problem and strives to address it head on.”
Free breakfasts will be universal for all primary school pupils in Hammersmith and Fulham regardless of family income from September. The council will be the first in England and Wales to launch a pilot scheme to deliver free lunches in two secondary schools from January 2020.
Sally Brooks, the headteacher at Fulham college boys’ school, which is involved in the pilot, added: “Providing the boys with a nutritious meal will not only allow them to compete in an academic environment, but will also give them the nutrition needed to go above and beyond what is required of them at school and actively participate in extra-curricular activities.”
The council’s leader, Steve Cowan, said he hoped other councils would follow.
He said: “This initiative is a step forward in the fight to end this blight on our children and their future wellbeing.”