Invite your MP to the Free School Meals debate

2 mins read

Thursday 21 December 2023

Tags: free school meals, take action

Contact has secured an important debate in Parliament!

The debate will be about the thousands of children missing out on a free lunch due to their disability, sensory or dietary needs.

It’s important lots of MPs attend the debate so government understands what needs to be done to stop disabled children from missing out.

Ask your MP to attend the debate using our quick and easy campaign action.

We are grateful to Ian Byrne, MP for West Derby who is leading the Westminster Hall debate called on Wednesday 10 January 2024.

The debate has been secured on behalf of Natalie Hay, the parent who set up the campaign to stop disabled children missing out on free school meals campaign.

Why is the debate important?

Contact’s research found that a third of eligible disabled children are missing out on their free school meals, losing almost £600 a year of financial help. There are many reasons why a disabled child can’t access their free school meal including special diets or sensory processing difficulties, being off school due to a long-term illness or waiting for a suitable school place, as well as those who have an educational package called EOTAS.

The law says disabled pupils should be offered an alternative, such as a supermarket voucher, as a reasonable adjustment if they are unable to access a school lunch in the regular way. However, government guidance makes no mention of this, meaning many schools are wrongly refusing parent requests for a food voucher.

At the debate, we want MPs to ask the Government to update the Free School Meals Guidance so it’s clear that schools and councils must provide free school meals, in some form, to eligible disabled children who can’t access them in the regular way.

A government minister will have to respond to the debate so it’s important that lots of MPs attend to show what an important issue this is for families with disabled children.

The debate follows on from the legal webinar and launch of template letters aimed at helping parents to ask for a food voucher in lieu of a school lunch.

Use our template letter finder to ask for a reasonable adjustment.