Caritas Westminster Calls for Free School Meals to be Extended to Children from Migrant Families.


Caritas Westminster has joined with 60 organisations calling for Free School Meals to be permanently extended to children from migrant families. 

The group of 60 organisations has written to the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson MP, calling on him to prevent children from going hungry by permanently extending free school meals to pupils from low-income migrant families, who have not yet qualified for permanent residency in the UK.

Until this status changes, such families have no recourse to public funds (NRPF), preventing them from accessing essential welfare support, including Universal Credit, tax credits, and usually free school meals. New research provided to The Children’s Society by the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford reveals that at the end of 2019, an estimated 175,643 non-EEA citizens under age 18 lived in such families, over 30,000 more than the number in 20161.

The condition disproportionately affects black and minority ethnic (BAME) groups and removes the safety net of welfare support from families that are likely to already be struggling financially, with additional costs such as fees for ‘leave to remain’ applications.

Caritas Westminster, The Children’s Society, UNISON, Action for Children and Project 17 are among the organisations that signed the letter.

In April this year, the Government temporarily extended free school meals to children in some families affected by the NRPF condition while the coronavirus outbreak impacts schools – a decision which the letter’s signatories have praised as a positive step.

However, there is uncertainty over how long this vital support will continue, and the group is concerned that when this help is withdrawn, thousands of children will lose out on what could be their only nutritious meal of the day.

You can join the call by writing to the Education Secretary here.

Anna Gavurin from the Caritas Food Collective said:

“The extension of free school meals for children of migrants was a hopeful sign in April, but this must be extended permanently, to ensure that every child can return to school without fear of hunger. Free school meals are a lifeline, helping prevent children falling behind in their studies – whether or not a child can eat should not depend on their parents’ immigration status.”

Read the full letter here or see a longer version of this article on the Caritas Food Collective website.

[1] 2016 figures from A Lifeline for All report, p14



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