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Extra funding for colleges to provide free meals for poor students

FE colleges will receive extra funding to help them provide free meals to disadvantaged students, it was announced today.

From September, free meals must be made available for disadvantaged students on FE courses at all institutions. Today the government said that for the 2014 to 2015 academic year, colleges will receive £2.41 per student for each meal taken.

There will also be a one-off payment to help institutions to put facilities and processes into place.

To get the initial allocations, the government will use free school meal data from 2011-12 to work out the number of potentially eligible students and then make adjustments based on the number of students enrolled in the previous academic year.

The government expects institutions to adopt a cashless system using vouchers or credits, but will allow them to offer cash in exceptional circumstances.

The news was welcomed by the Association of Colleges, which led a campaign to extend free meals to college students.

Martin Doel, its chief executive, said: “It is gratifying to see this come to fruition after the success of AoC’s No Free Lunch? campaign in gaining free meals for disadvantaged 16- to 18-year-old students who study in colleges.

“It is good news that colleges will receive a one-off payment to help them put in place the processes and facilities to provide free school meals for disadvantaged students.

“Allowing students to use a cashless system to take meals on campus and in local outlets is also welcome, as is the ability to be able to provide the students with cash in certain circumstances.”

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