The number of Isle of Wight schoolchildren eligible for free school meals has increased by 2.2% during the COVID pandemic, latest figures reveal.
School Census Data shows that a total of 3,301 pupils across the Island can now claim free lunchtime meals – an increase of 359, or 2.2%.
19.6% of all local students are now eligible for free school meals – that’s almost 1 in 5, up from more than 1 in 7 just 5 years ago.
Nationally, over 300,000 additional pupils are now eligible for free meals. In the South East, the number of eligible pupils has jumped from 12.9% to 15.1%.
Peter Shreeve, Assistant District Secretary of the National Education Union, has said:
“Hundreds, if not a thousand more Island pupils from families on low incomes are slipping through the cracks and are not provided with this much-needed support. No child should come to school too hungry to learn.
“Government must act urgently to implement the recommendations of the National Food Strategy and expand FSM eligibility to all children and young people growing up in families in receipt of Universal Credit.
“Tulip Siddiq MP, Labour’s Shadow Children and Early Years Minister, has pointed out that Government is offering food on just 16 of 30 weekdays this coming summer holiday. Hence the need of rolling out FSM provision to cover the remaining 14 days of the school summer holiday.”