York council's free school meal trial extended with further £100k to be spent

The City of York Council will spend another £100k on extending its trial for a free midday meal at a secondary school in the city.

Westfield Community Primary School has been part of a one-year free school meal trial from January 2024 funded by the council.

On March 27, the City of York Council extended this to 2025.

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Before being elected into power, the Labour Party pledged to fundraise enough money to pay for free school meals in every primary school in York.

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Free school meal

Coun Bob Webb, the council’s executive member for children, young people and education, said: “Tackling poverty and providing equal opportunities for all children in our city are key planks of our council plan, ‘one city for all’.

“I’m pleased that, despite the authority’s challenging financial position, we’ve been able to allocate additional funding to continue our commitment to the free school meals pilots, supporting our aim towards York becoming an anti-poverty city.”

Westfield Community Primary School, based in one of the most deprived areas in the city, is the only school currently getting a free midday meal.

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Burton Green Primary School is getting a free breakfast thanks to donations from the Persimmon Charitable Foundation and the Sylvia and Colin Shepherd Charitable Trust.

The opposition group on the council, the Liberal Democrats, have criticised Labour over its slowness in delivering the pledge.

Liberal Democrat group leader Coun Nigel Ayre said: “The Liberal Democrats believe that all primary school pupils across the city should have the same provision, and so we continue to campaign for the national government to provide the funding for free school meals due to the scale of funding needed.

“Before last May’s local elections, York Labour promised that they would ensure that all primary school children would receive a free school meal.

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“This was never likely to be financially deliverable, and many residents who voted Labour on the back of this promise will now feel very badly let down.

“Local initiatives to tackle the impact of the cost of living crisis are welcome, which is why in our alternative budget, York’s Liberal Democrat councillors proposed an extra £400k support for those households worst affected by the government’s decision to end the household support fund.

“Labour voted against this investment, which calls into question their commitment to supporting residents in need.”

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