Hundreds of thousands of school holiday meals in Lambeth

Felix Project volunteers

Some 178,000 free school holiday meals have been given out in Lambeth by the Mayor of London since April this year.

This does not include the borough’s share of 500,000 meals which were delivered across London this October half term.

The meals provide vital support given that more than a third of children in Lambeth grow up in poverty.

Mayor Sadiq Khan announced a £3.5m emergency free holiday meals programme in April to provide around 10m free meals to hundreds of thousands of Londoners during school holidays and at weekends over 12 months.

Across London, half a million meals were expected to have been given out this October half-term, meaning that more than 7m meals will have been delivered across London since April to help low-income families struggling with the soaring cost of living.

Cost of living increases are hitting Londoners disproportionately, with City Hall polling showing that 45% of Londoners with a total household income of lower than £20,000 and 50% of disabled Londoners are already using less water, energy or fuel to help them manage living costs.

One in five Londoners say they are “financially struggling” (21%). This rises to more than one in three (39%) for Londoners who have a total household income lower than £20,000, social renters (37%) and Black Londoners (36%), with one in three disabled Londoners (33%) also struggling financially.

Of those Londoners who are financially struggling, more than one in four (29%) are going without essentials and more than two-thirds (67%) are buying less food and essentials.

During term-time, up to 287,000 primary school children at London’s state primary schools are benefitting from the Mayor’sfree school meals programme.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has also warned of severe pressures facing Londoners this winter as he urged government to urgently do more to tackle the cost of living.

Lambeth London Assembly Member Marina Ahmad (Labour) said: “It is heart-breaking that many Londoners are, once again, facing an uncertain winter in which they will be struggling to afford food and other basics.

“178,000 free meals have been delivered in Lambeth thanks to the excellent work of Sadiq Khan, the Felix Project and partner organisations.

“Food banks and pantries are always stretched during school holidays and these projects make a real difference.

“I welcome the action taken by the Mayor to provide meals during term-time and during the holidays, but we need the government to tackle the root causes of poverty and make sure children and their families are not going hungry.”

Data on child poverty is from the Trust for London and covers the period 2021/22. The data refers to the percentage of children in poverty after housing costs are taken into account.

The Mayor’s free holiday meals funding – which started for 12 months from April – includes £3.1m to the Mayor’s Fund for London and the Felix Project to expand their ready-made and cook-at-home meal provision during school holidays.

The Mayor’s Fund provides free healthy meals to low-income families and young people through more than 340 community partners and 80 hubs where food is provided alongside a range of school holiday activities.

The Felix Project delivers surplus food from a range of suppliers to nearly 1,000 charity organisations and schools that support those in need.

A further £425,000 is being provided to The Felix Project to expand its capacity, and allow it to deliver food on Saturdays, as well as during the week.

This will enable around 100 new charitable organisations on its waiting list to be supplied with food, and help project to deliver an extra 20 tonnes of food each weekend.