The Mayor of London visited a school ahead of a scheme to provide “emergency” free school meals nationwide, aiming to stop pupils “hiding their hunger out of shame”.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, went to Stroud Green Primary School in Haringey on Thursday (July 13) to see preparations ahead of the free school meals scheme starting after the summer holidays.

Under the scheme, the mayor is providing an emergency £135 million towards free school meals for state primary school children across London for the next academic year.

This comes as the UK grapples with the cost-of-living crisis and latest YouGov polling shows that a sixth of children aged 5-11 years are going without essentials including food, electricity and gas.

Mr Khan, who received free school meals as a child, said: “It is truly shocking that so many families across the capital are struggling to feed themselves as they deal with the escalating cost-of-living crisis.

"It simply cannot be right that in a city as prosperous as ours around one in six parents are going without essentials to get by.”

Naomi Duncan, chief executive of Chefs in Schools, added: "We’ve seen and heard first hand of children hiding their hunger out of shame, of schools having to fund extra meals from teaching budgets.

"This scheme will make sure every primary school child in London gets a hot meal at lunchtime."

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City Hall said that 270,000 children will benefit from one-off funding and families will save an average of £440 per child.

More than a third of parents and guardians with children 5-11 said they are "financially struggling."

City Hall said it has offered each London borough funding to deliver free school meals to pupils in years three to six in state funded schools from September.

Lucy Walker-Collins, Headteacher at Stroud Green Primary School, said: “It will make a big difference to the children to receive these meals each day and be a huge support to their parents and guardians.”

Currently, children in Years three to six only receive free school meals if they live in households on universal credit earning less than £7,400 annually.

London boroughs are set to receive £2.65 per meal in funding, which City Hall said was higher than the amount they receive from central government.

Peray Ahmet, Leader of Haringey Council, said: "This invaluable support will ensure that our children are provided for, and no child will go without.

Enfield Independent: Cllr Ahmet backed the extended free school meals programme.Cllr Ahmet backed the extended free school meals programme. (Image: Haringey Council)

"We already have an extended free school meals programme in Haringey and take other strong measure to help our families with our Here to Help scheme and the Holiday Activities and Food programme.”

Mr Khan has also set aside an additional £5 million as a contingency fund for any extra costs associated with the scheme's delivery.

Boroughs have also been given advice on best practise to encourage parents to complete a pupil premium registration.

This will ensure schools continue to receive additional funding from the government, based on the number of pupils who currently qualify for free school meals, City Hall said.