4,300 Jewish children at London state primary schools to receive free kosher meals

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4,300 Jewish children at London state primary schools to receive free kosher meals

New figures released by City Hall confirm impact of Sadiq Khan's free school meals funding at 25 Jewish primary schools in the capital

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

School meals PA Wire
School meals PA Wire

An estimated 4,300 Jewish children at state-funded primary schools across London will receive a free school meal once the new school term begins, new figures released by City Hall reveal.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced an unprecedented £135m free school meals funding in the upcoming school year in response to the cost of living crisis.

Jewish News had previously revealed that the mayor of London had responded to the increased cost of providing kosher meals by increasing funding amounting to £3.50 per meal to allow key stage 2 pupils (children aged 7 to 11) at 25 Jewish schools to have free meals.

The additional funding – around £4million – represents an 85 pence uplift on the £2.65p offered to all boroughs for non-kosher lunches for Key Stage Two pupils.

At a Yom Hashoah event alongside Sadiq Khan and Board president Marie van der Zyl. (Photo: John Rifkin via Jewish News)

The mayor’s free school meals initiative follows polling from YouGov that shows close to half (48 per cent) of parents or guardians with children aged between five and 11 are buying less food and essentials.

Andrew Gilbert, co-chair of the London Jewish Forum had been among those to enter into discussions with the mayor as a result of the increased cost of providing kosher meals in schools.

He said that in the capital’s Jewish primaries the extra funding of 85p per kosher meal “makes a huge difference.”

Gilbert had been involved in three months of discussions alongside communal leaders including Rabbi Joel Sager, of Pardes House Primary School, the London Jewish Forum, councillors in Barnet, representatives from the United Synagogue and Partnerships for Jewish Schools (PaJeS).

Rabbi Meyer OBE, the chief executive of PaJes said: “Amidst today’s economic trials, the well-being of our children must remain paramount. The Mayor’s visionary free school meals initiative, benefitting 287,000 young children across London, is a wonderful initiative that will be welcomed by parents of young families across London.

“We are particularly appreciative to the mayor for safeguarding the diverse needs of the minorities within London, including the dietary requirements of the Jewish community. This initiative exemplifies the essence of an inclusive and caring society.”

Mayor Khan said:“I know from personal experience what a lifeline free school meals can be, which is why I’m determined to do all I can to help families across London who are struggling during this escalating cost-of-living crisis.

“I’m proud that hundreds of thousands of children will benefit from the unprecedented funding when they return to school after the summer holidays, and that parents in every borough will know their children are receiving a good meal at lunchtime. ”

Stephanie Slater, chief executive of School Food Matters added: “London is leading the way to embed stigma-free access to the good nutrition our children need to thrive. It’s now time for government to follow and extend free school meals as an immediate first step towards universal provision. But for now, it’s worth pausing to celebrate this most welcome announcement and commend London’s Mayor for putting children’s health first.”

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