This activity is part of Lambeth Council’s £10 million cost of living support plan to support those worst impacted by rising prices.
The 340 extra children who are eligible for free school meals have automatically been enrolled in the scheme so they will not need to fill out an application form or anything else to benefit.
Cllr David Amos, Cabinet Member for Finance and Cost of Living said: “We are among the first London councils to auto enrol families for Free School Meals and feel it is an important move in the face of the ongoing cost of living crisis.
“By taking this step we have not only saved each of these families up to £500 per year in meal costs, but also given them access to support during the school holidays. They will also receive £20 per week in free school meal holiday support and can access the Holiday Activity and Food programme enabling parents and guardians to save on childcare costs during the holidays.
“We estimate the total savings to a household to be up to £1400 per child per year. Despite the strain on our budget, we want to make sure our comprehensive cost of living support package helps those worst impacted by the crisis.”
Cllr Ben Kind, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said “Our commitment to maximising Free School Meals enrolment not only ensures fairer access to essential nourishment for children in Lambeth’s schools but also directly channels vital additional funding into our schools.
“We’ve highlighted to central Government how they’ve held back on funding our schools properly. Rather than wait for the Government to act, by embracing this approach, we’ve secured a substantial £370,000 in new funding for Lambeth schools.
“Recognizing that households from Black, Asian, and Multi-ethnic backgrounds are often overrepresented among our lower-income residents, this proactive strategy targets equity and justice. With 79% of the children benefiting from this initiative coming from these backgrounds, we’re taking tangible steps to alleviate financial burdens and guarantee that schools catering to these communities receive their rightful funding.
“This action is pivotal in ensuring that educational resources follow those who need them the most, fostering in Lambeth a fairer and more inclusive educational landscape for all.”
The 340 children who will benefit from free school meals for the first time were identified by looking at the benefits they already receive. Those who were found to be eligible were sent letters informing them that they would be enrolled unless they opted out.
Lambeth Council are part of an evaluation study exploring the implementation and impact of the approach across multiple local authorities (Fix our Food).