Poverty stricken and hungry

Picture by Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Picture by Chris Radburn/PA Wire

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More than two thirds of children living in poverty in Horsham and the South Downs are missing out on free school meals, a charity has found.

Analysis by the Children’s Society reveals huge numbers of children in poverty across England are missing out on free school meals and in a table drawn up by the charity, the problem is most prevalent in the constituencies of Horsham and Arundel and South Downs.

There are an estimated 1,400 poverty stricken children in the Horsham constituency, but 69 per cent of them are missing out on free school dinners - the highest in England. In Arundel and South Downs there are around 1,300 and 68 per cent are not receiving free meals.

In some cases it is because, although they may be living in poverty because one parent is working, they are not entitled for free meals however low the parent’s salary is.

The Children’s Society is hoping to change that with its Fair and Square campaign and with nearly half of teachers surveyed saying they often saw children going hungry in school, they want people to write to their MPs echoing their concerns

Matthew Reed, chief executive, said: “Every child in poverty should be entitled to this vital support. We know from the families we work with up and down the country that parents are struggling to make ends meet.

“Right now, the government is reconsidering which children will be entitled to get free school meals.

“We urge the government to take this opportunity to make sure all children in poverty can get a free school meal.”

There were two other West Sussex constituencies in the top ten, but West Sussex County Council said it works hard to make sure eligible children receive meals.

A spokesman said: “We work closely with schools to encourage families of eligible children to apply for free school meals because not only are they nutritious but schools also get the benefits of the pupil premium.

“There is an application form on our website at ht tp://www.westsussex.gov.uk/learning/schools_ages_4-16/pupil_and_student_support/free_school_meals.aspx

“We will continue making sure that parents are aware of the entitlement.”