UK Youth Parliament has chosen to focus on finance and funding of free school mealsfor the remainder of its ‘Food for Learning’ campaign. The topic has been declared following the UK Youth Parliament’s twelfth sitting in the House of Commons Chamber on Friday 17th November 2023.
The sessions were chaired by Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP and Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons Dame Rosie Winteron MP. Powerful speeches and articulate arguments were made around universal free school meals and food security for young people.
Hardik Singh, Member of Youth Parliament for Birmingham said, “Financing and funding is an important consideration to ensure the rolling out of free school meals is equitable for all.
“Consistency in how we provide food for young people at schools is a crucial step to ensuring every young person gets the same nutritional provision. It is grossly unfair that this isn’t already the case, and I’m delighted that our renewed campaign focus will ensure we’re championing investment in all young people, regardless of their economic circumstances.”
In a letter to the UK Youth Parliament, Rishi Sunak MP, Prime Minister said: “I am aware that universal free school meals are an issue high on the youth agenda for this session.”
For the first time, UK Youth Parliament was able to hear from representatives of the Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Young people from these regions were invited along by the Speaker of the House of Commons, and joined representatives from the UK Overseas Territories including Anguilla and Bermuda.
Members of Youth Parliament were also joined in the Chamber by Minister Rt. Hon Stuart Andrew MP, Minister for Sport, Gambling and Civil Society, John Nicolson MP, SNP Spokesperson for the DCMS, Lilian Greenwood Shadow Minister for Arts, Heritage and Civil Society and Leader of the House Penny Mordaunt MP, who spoke from the despatch box in recognition of the importance of embedding youth voice in decision making.
Earlier in the day, select Members of Youth Parliament joined food charity Sustain at a letter hand-in at 10 Downing Street, in support of their SAY YES to School Food For All campaign. This campaign, much like Food for Learning, endorses the government’s provision of free school meals for all school age children.
Food for Learning will remain UK Youth Parliament’s primary campaign until the new term begins early next year. Over the coming months, the youth-led body will also conclude their year-long efforts to draft their Parliamentary bill.