Food Poverty

MQT on 2013-09-11
Session date: 
September 11, 2013
Question By: 
Fiona Twycross
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Following the publication of the London Food Board report, 'Child Hunger in London: Understanding Food Poverty in the Capital', will you support universal healthy free school meals in London?


Answer for Food Poverty

Answer for Food Poverty

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Yes, thank you very much, Fiona. What you are calling for is universal healthy free school meals and this is why we backed the school food plan that Michael Gove [Secretary of State for Education] rolled out in July saying universal free school meals across the country would be desirable. Obviously this is basically a matter for the boroughs, but there are some boroughs that are already providing free school meals, and I think that is a great thing. The Mayor's Fund for London is working to support a range of initiatives to get kids to eat healthy means, but particularly the Magic Breakfast Scheme to get them off to the right start for the day.

Fiona Twycross (AM): Yes. I am delighted to hear that you support the measures included in the school food plan, I think it would make a massive difference to children. As we have seen in the Labour authorities that have introduced it, like Islington obviously where you live, and Southwark and Newham. I have to reluctantly admit that you adding your voice to campaigns on this issue will help encourage councils who may be hesitant about it to commit to putting it forward. I do not know if you are aware that today a new campaign across London called, Let's All Have Lunch led by the Coalition of Poverty Charities 4 in 10 and the Child Poverty Action Group has been launched to encourage London councils to join those councils already introducing or which have already introduced free school meals in all primary schools. I am sure they would be very keen for you to add your voice to their campaign.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Yes, absolutely. I mean, I would say, 'Let's all have lunch' but you have just voted to postpone lunch.

Fiona Twycross (AM): OK. Very good. I think that obviously there are also ways that you can actively work to help encourage your colleagues in Government. So to encourage [Michael] Gove to actually put money where his mouth is on this issue, and to really

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Come on, he has. He has already put -- come on. He gives, he gave, he 'Gove' --

Fiona Twycross (AM): Yes, he has put some money into it --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): He has already --

Fiona Twycross (AM): He said that he will not consider -- he has said that he will not consider putting

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): He has given a new past participle to the language, he 'Gove' £600,000 to support two flagship boroughs in London already.

Fiona Twycross (AM): Yes. Given that it is going to cost £1 billion to introduce this nationally and given that [Michael] Gove has said that he is reluctant to consider funding for this until 2016, anything you can do to make him reconsider this in the meantime would be appreciated.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Understood. I think his heart is really in the right place on this, and I think he is doing a lot more than many previous education secretaries have done.

Fiona Twycross (AM): OK. I can feedback to the Let's All Have Lunch campaign that you are happy to support them?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Yes, of course. Yes. I mean, I have to be very careful, because it will turn out that you pledged I will go and do something

Fiona Twycross (AM): No, I have not done that. I have just said --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): OK. Of course I will support it.

Fiona Twycross (AM): OK, thank you.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Be in touch with my office about what obligations that actually places on me.

Fiona Twycross (AM): Yes, lovely. Thank you. Great.