Lawyers lend support to free school meals campaign

3 mins read

Tuesday 19 September 2023

Tags: free school meals

Human rights lawyers have written a free school meals guide and four template letters to help families whose disabled child is eligible for free school meals, but can’t access them in the standard way.

Who are the resources for?

Many eligible disabled children are unfairly missing out on a free lunch because they can’t attend school or are unable to eat the meal provided due to dietary or sensory needs.

You can use these letters to ask your child’s school to provide an alternative, such as a supermarket voucher.

The four letters cover:

  • Children who are in an independent/non-maintained school.
  • Children with have Education Otherwise Than At School (EOTAS).
  • Children on roll at a state-maintained school, academy or free school and eligible because they are in Reception, Year 1 or Year 2.
  • Children who are financially eligible for free school meals and on roll at a state-maintained school, academy or free school.

You can highlight your particular situation in our online flow chart. You’ll be directed to the correct template letter to use. The letters include important information including who to send the letter to at the school or local authority.

Please note: these letters were written for those living in England. We will be writing letters for children living in other parts of the UK, and they will be available soon.

Written by human rights lawyers

Public law human rights lawyers Alex Rook, Rosie Campbell and Katie Sinclair from Rook Irwin Sweeney and Steve Broach from 39 Essex Chambers wrote the free school meals guide and template letters.

Parent and founder of the free school meals campaign Natalie Hay independently raised funds through a crowdfunding website to enable the legal team to do this.

Imogen Steele, Contact’s Policy Lead on free school meals, said: “A third of eligible disabled children are missing out on free school meals, worth £570 a year. This number will grow as free school meal schemes expand to more pupils across the country this year.

“We are calling for swift action from the government to update its guidance to ensure this discrimination is stopped. In the meantime, we must ensure as many disabled children as possible get the school lunch they are entitled to. The letters and guide are a great tool for making that happen.”

Free school meals webinar recording

As part of the campaign Contact hosted a webinar featuring lawyers Alex Rook, Steve Broach and campaign founder Natalie Hay. The webinar is available to watch back here.