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Free meals campaign serves up holiday helpings

For most pupils the summer holidays are a chance to indulge in ice- cream and other treats. But for those from the poorest homes it can mean the loss of their only proper daily meal and weeks of hunger.

Now an initiative south of the border aims to feed these children who will miss out on food during the long break because they claim free school meals (FSM).

Organisers of the "Lunch" campaign hope to encourage community groups around England to set up temporary canteens for pupils during the six-week holiday.

The schemes are modelled on similar initiatives in the US and come as the Government reports an increase in the number of children in England entitled to FSM.

The schemes will be run with the support of local schools, which have spread the word to parents about the food on offer. Those providing the meals are also trying to enlist the support of MPs and children's charities including Barnardo's and Save the Children.

FSM ON THE RISE

- In nursery and state-funded primaries, 19.2 per cent of pupils are eligible for and claiming FSM, up from 18.5 per cent in 2010.

- In secondaries 15.9 per cent of pupils are eligible for and claiming FSM, an increase from 15.4 per cent in 2010.

- In special schools the figure is 36.5 per cent, an increase from 34.9 per cent in 2010.

- In pupil referral units, the figure is 34.6 per cent, up from 33.3 per cent in 2010.

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