Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: "This country’s record on child poverty is truly shocking. A record 2.9 million children from working families in the UK are living in poverty after housing costs have been paid. 70 per cent of all poor children were in working families last year. Austerity is not just a temporary phase for some families to endure, it is a day to day reality.
“Children who are hungry cannot learn as well as they might be able to. Free school meals at least guarantee that children going hungry at home get one nutritious meal a day during term time. We have to do all that we can to extend that entitlement to every child that is going hungry, and we must fix the problems in society that cause families to fall in to the poverty trap.
"Currently one in ten eligible children miss out on their free school meals entitlement. NAHT has long called for children to be automatically enrolled to receive free school meals, using the information councils already hold about their family situation. This would take away the barrier of stigma for parents.”
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