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Asda, Primark and even Aston Villa could help fund free school meals trust

Asda, Primark and even Aston Villa could help fund free school meals trust

🕔12.Jan 2016

Birmingham’s professional football and cricket clubs as well as big-name retail stores will be invited to help pay for free school meals for children at infant and junior schools, city council leader John Clancy has revealed.

Cllr Clancy is talking to the Children’s Society about forming a school meals trust which he hopes will be partly funded by the Birmingham business community.

He told a meeting of the full city council he hoped the likes of Asda and Primark would contribute as well as other big organisations, and while he did not mention by name Aston Villa and Birmingham City football clubs and Warwickshire County Cricket Club, all three are likely to be on his list.

Cllr Clancy said he hoped businesses would recognise that providing a ”nourishing hot meal” for young children was part of their corporate social responsibility duties.

The free school meals plan for all children at council-run infant and junior schools was a key feature of Cllr Clancy’s manifesto for the council leadership.

When campaigning for the job he said:

We will look to reset our budget to invest first in children, not IT. We will make free hot school meals available to both infant and junior pupils at all of our LEA primary schools.

We will then look to make Birmingham a free school meals city bringing in new forms of investments through social enterprise, social impact bonds and partnerships to achieve this.

A school teacher for 25 years, Cllr Clancy said children from poorer backgrounds would be more likely to progress at school if they were guaranteed a regular hot meal. Too many families in Birmingham were unable to do this, he claimed.

He conceded that the council’s parlous financial state, with £250 million of spending cuts looming over the next four years, made it unlikely that the public purse could directly fund free meals. He added:

It’s going to be difficult out of revenue at the moment. What I am starting to look at is setting up a trust, a school meals trust in Birmingham. It will be incremental across a given number of primary schools and in the long term extend to free school meals across the city.

Cllr Clancy stressed the trust proposal was “very much a starting point” and hinted that it would not be possible to bring every infant and junior school into the scheme immediately.

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