Hundreds more Haringey children will be able to receive Free School Meals (FSMs) after Cabinet approved the expansion of its eligibility criteria last night (Tuesday 19 January 2021).

As part of the council’s ambition to create a fairer and more equal borough, the most-in-need groups of children aged 7-10 who are not currently eligible for support under the Government scheme, will be able to apply for FSMs under the new expanded criteria for eligible primary schoolchildren from the Summer term onwards.

It is anticipated that up to as many as 650 extra children will be eligible to receive Free Schools Meals as a result of this expansion. In addition, this will be bolstered by a discretionary element of the fund.

We know that Covid-19 has had, and continues to have, a significant impact on household finances for a number of people across the borough. The discretionary fund will pay for up to an additional 140 children per day to receive a Free School Meal (25,0000 meals a year), and will give schools more freedom to support families who find themselves in unexpected short-term financial hardship.

Cllr Kaushika Amin, the Deputy Leader of Haringey Council and Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Families, said:

This council is committed to creating a fairer and more equal borough. I’m proud that we are now taking an important step towards meeting that commitment, by introducing an expansion of Free School Meals in Haringey. This is a bold and progressive change that will see almost 800 children on any given school day having a free meal that they would not have otherwise had.

In 2021, no child should be made to feel any different from their peers by what they can – or cannot – afford to pay for at school, nor should families have to make trade-offs between food, fuel, and other basic living costs.

This Free School Meals expansion will make an enormous difference to the lives of hundreds of children, not just today, but for their futures. I’m really pleased and proud to support them.

Once again, I’d like to thank Marcus Rashford for his tireless campaigning on this issue. Whilst we have chosen as a council to put in place these expanded measures to address the need that we see in our borough, ultimately this an urgent matter that needs a concerted national approach from central government to ensure equity within our classrooms.

As well as this eligibility expansion for FSMs, the council has also recently launched the Haringey Digital Divide Appeal in partnership with Haringey Giving to help support children and young people in the borough who don’t have regular access to laptops, Wi-Fi, and other technological support at home.

Cllr Amin added:

We’re continuing to support our children and young people as best as we possibly can to ensure they’re able to access remote education during the ongoing lockdown.

However, despite the best efforts of the council and our schools, we know there are some pupils and students who – through no fault of their own – simply don’t have regular access to laptops and Wi-Fi at home. That is why we’ve set up our Digital Divide Appeal, in partnership with Haringey Giving.

For further information, or to donate, visit the Haringey Giving website (external link).

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