Skip to main content

Westminster starts expanded free school meal scheme, feeding 14,000 children in the city

The Leader, Adam Hug sitting with schoolchildren during their lunchbreak

Published: 6 September 2023

As a new generation of young people take their first steps into schools, those living in Westminster aged 3 – 14 will receive a free school lunch.

Westminster has been delivering primary school meals since the start of the year, funded as part of the Council’s Fairer Westminster programme. Now thanks to the Mayor of London’s city-wide scheme, the extra funding will be used to extend the offer in Westminster to early years settings offering free entitlements and to 11- 14-year-old resident children attending secondary schools in the borough.

With the two schemes and the existing Government free school meals offer, 14,000 children will now be eligible for a free lunch in Westminster.

The council estimates that the £2.9million investment by Westminster City Council, in combination with the GLA funding, will save families between £500 and £570 per child, per year.

In addition, two-year-olds who currently access the Free Early Education Entitlement in the City will also receive free lunches from next week.

Cllr Adam Hug, Leader of Westminster City Council, said:

No child should go to school hungry. That is why we have provided funding for primary school pupils since the beginning of this year to help families during the cost-of-living crisis. I’m pleased that this week will see the start of our expanded free school meal scheme to nurseries and secondary schools which we extended with support from the Mayor of London’s funding.

Since January, we know from families that this help has made a real difference and given parents one less thing to worry about when managing increased costs.

Ben Commins, Executive Headteacher for Queen’s Park Primary School said:

At a time when families and schools are under unprecedented pressure due to the cost of living and funding constraints Westminster have provided timely financial support. This has meant that all children living in Westminster benefit from a hot meal. I have personally seen children's concentration, engagement and enjoyment improve due to children not being hungry.

Tia, parent of Chelsea who attends St Barnabas’ CE Primary School said:

One of the things I’ve realised when it to comes to poverty, [it] doesn’t discriminate; it can happen to any of us, and knowing that my son is coming to school [and] having that meal, it gives me peace of mind, not having to be put in a position of asking myself, do I pay for lunch this week, do I scrape and wait and be in debt at the end of the month and try to play catch-up? So not having that extra burden [has been] absolutely amazing for my family.

For myself, personally, it [the free school lunch offer] has had a very very positive impact. I have an extended family, so the fact that since Covid changed a lot of things for us, my eldest child had to move in with me, and their children, so I ended up with five grandchildren in my household. So having that pressure of being the only family member with an income was very stressful and any help, absolutely matters.

Notes to editor:

Due to the Mayor of London's funding currently only being confirmed for one year, our 3-14-year-old expansion is being initially brought in on a one-year cost-of-living support basis, pending confirmation of future Mayoral funding and internal reviews.