TV chef Jamie Oliver has warned that “chaos is on the way” from parents worried about feeding their children as he calls on the Government to extend free school meals to all children with disabilities. parents join Universal Credit.
Existing UK households receiving Universal Credit must earn less than £7,400 a year before subsidies and after tax to be eligible for free school meals.
According to the Food Foundation, an estimated 800,000 children in the UK are living in poverty but are currently ineligible.
It comes as Westminster Council announced that all children attending state-funded primary schools in the county will be eligible for free school meals from the new year.
Oliver was guest editor of an episode of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, on Tuesday as part of his election campaign.
Speaking to presenter Nick Robinson from Mary Magdalene School in Westminster, Oliver said he was “proud” of the council’s new policy.
“Every school, 32,000 students, could be like this,” he said.
“This is ours to celebrate. So of course, I’m proud of what they’re doing here. And when you see it in action… you realize it’s not rocket science.”
He was asked about the high cost of providing free school meals and why the parents of children should not feed them instead of the Government.
“That can only come from the lens of someone who has never been hungry or struggled,” he said.
“As I have been, if you’ve looked into the eyes of parents who are worried about their children’s feeding… whatever values you place around the society we live in, forget them.
“If parents are worried about feeding their baby, chaos will happen in many, many, many different ways that cannot be measured directly.”
He added that the free school meals are “best value for taxpayers money”.
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He said: “I will say at a long, very long time about the galaxy, which is best value for taxpayers money.
“Why? Because the institution of the school is well established. The money spent there is a very reliable, well, measured place to do it.
“If we don’t spend it here it will react elsewhere in the community…and it certainly won’t be as cheap.”
Oliver also interviewed former prime minister Sir Tony Blair on the Today programme, who supported his call for a greater focus on children’s health.
“This is absolutely fundamental,” said the former Labor leader.
“Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything more important for the future of the country than making sure that we get this problem solved – education and well-being for the first few years of life.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Education said the Government understands the pressures many households are under.
A spokesperson said: “We understand the pressures many households are under, which is why we are supporting more children and young people than ever before.
“More than a third of schoolchildren in the UK are now receiving free school meals in educational institutions and we have just announced our next investment in the National School Breakfast Scheme, extending the program. one more year with a support amount of up to £30 million.
“We have taken action to reduce rising energy costs through the Energy Price Guarantee, saving a typical household over £900 this winter. The Energy Bills Support Scheme is also offering a £400 discount to millions of households this winter, with additional support for the most vulnerable who will receive £1,200 a year this year.”
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/jamie-oliver-calls-for-free-school-meals-for-all-families-on-universal-credit-42246005.html Jamie Oliver calls for free school meals for all families under Universal Credit