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Cambridgeshire County Council

Councillor points to ‘harsh reality of poverty and inequality’ across Cambridgeshire

The number of free school meals has risen from some 12,000 to in 2020 to 21,000 today

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Cambridgeshire has seen the number of children eligible for free school meals rise by 70 per cent in just four years, a county councillor has revealed. Cllr Firouz Thompson says the rise “highlights the harsh reality of poverty and inequality within our county”.

She was addressing a county council meeting which agreed to fund parents on low income with children between the ages of two and 19 with supermarket vouchers during school holidays

“As member of the children and young people’s committee I very much support the commitment for funding people’s food vouchers during school holidays,” she said.

“This is a matter of utmost importance concerning our education system. The number of free school meals has risen from some 12,000 to in 2020 to 21,000 today, that is a 70 per cent increase.

“This rise in the enrolment of pupils eligible for free school meal highlights the harsh reality of poverty and inequality that persists within our county.

“It is a stark reminder of the challenges faced by countless families struggling to make ends meet where putting food on the table is a daily struggle let alone affording the cost of uniforms and PE kits.”

Cllr Thompson, a Liberal Democrat councillor for Longstanton, Northstowe and Over, added: “We must also confront the systemic injustices that perpetuates this cycle of poverty and disadvantage.

Cllr Firouz Chapman reminds councillors there has been a 70 per cent rise in just 4 years of those eligible for free school meals

Cllr Firouz Thompson reminds councillors there has been a 70 per cent rise in just 4 years of those eligible for free school meals

“We cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that behind these statistics are children who deserve every opportunity to succeed regardless of their socioeconomic background.

“Therefore, whilst we commend the efforts to increase access to education through free school meals we must also redouble our efforts to address the root causes of poverty and inequality.

“We must work tirelessly to create a society where every child has access to nutritious meals stable housing and the resources they need to thrive.

“In doing so we not only fulfil our moral obligation to the most vulnerable members of our community but also lay the groundwork for a more just and equitable society for generations to come.”

 

 

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