We’re partnering with the Mayor of London and The Felix Project to provide free holiday meals to young Londoners

Three young Londoners smile as they hold up two Take and Make boxes.
29th March 2023
  • The Mayor of London is providing more than £3.5m to supply around 10m meals to low-income families across the capital for a year starting immediately this Easter school holidays
  • Partnership with the Mayor’s Fund for London and The Felix Project will provide free meals during school holidays helping hundreds of thousands of Londoners by reaching children of all ages and their families
  • Follows the Mayor’s historic one-off £130m funding to provide universal free school meals to primary schoolchildren in the capital

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced an emergency funding package of more than £3.5m to help provide around 10m free meals during school holidays and at weekends to low-income Londoners struggling with the spiralling cost of living over the next year.

Sadiq Khan, patron of the Mayor’s Fund for London, is providing the new one-off funding to help expand the work of the Mayor’s Fund for London and The Felix Project, and help charities reach hundreds of thousands of struggling families and children of all ages with free nutritious meals in the next 12 months.

The London free holiday meals funding follows a historic announcement last month from the Mayor to provide an emergency £130m to provide free school meals to primary school children in London due to the cost of living.

Sadiq has repeatedly called on the Government to do more to tackle the spiralling cost of living and the challenge of children going hungry during school holidays, with recent GLA polling showing that half of Londoners are now either ‘financially struggling’ or ‘just about managing’.

The new funding from the Mayor will help children of all ages and their parents during the school holidays, with charities, schools and grassroots organisations helping to get them to those most in need through holiday food and activity schemes across the capital.

The funding includes £3.1m to the Mayor’s Fund for London and the Felix Project to expand their ready-made and cook-at-home meal provision during school holidays. The Mayor’s Fund provides free healthy meals to low-income families and young people through more than 340 community partners and 80 hubs where food is provided alongside a range of school holiday activities, while the Felix Project delivers surplus food from a range of suppliers to nearly 1,000 charity organisations and schools that support those in need.

It is estimated that around 6.9m additional meals will be provided from the new funding, with community partners targeting these meals at the areas of London most in need.

A further £425,000 is being provided to The Felix Project to expand its capacity, and allow it to deliver food on Saturdays, as well as during the week, throughout the whole year. This will enable around 100 new charitable organisations on their waiting list to be supplied with food, and help The Felix Project deliver an additional 20 tonnes of food every weekend, which will create around 2.5-3m meals over the next year.

The funding will help the charities reach those most in need in London, but the Mayor is clear that the Government also needs to step forward with the funding to ensure that even more children can access free school meals in the holidays – both in London and across the country.

Jim Minton, Chief Executive, Mayor’s Fund for London, said: “The Mayor’s Fund for London has partnered with community organisations and local authorities for many years to provide holiday meals and activities. This new funding is a lifeline for thousands of young Londoners and their families, and will ensure that there is food available during every holiday period; including provision of recipe boxes for families, resources and nutritional information – as well as signposting to wider cost of living support. We’re delighted to be working with The Felix Project to include surplus food to help eliminate food waste. The Mayor’s investment will help deliver year-round support at a time when London’s families need it most.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The spiralling cost of living is hitting low-income Londoners particularly hard and it’s shocking so many people are struggling to put food on their table. I have repeatedly called on the Government to do more to help those in need and support families during the school holidays, but they have not provided the assistance that is urgently needed. That’s why I’m stepping in today with a major new emergency funding package that will provide around 10m free holiday meals to hundreds of thousands of Londoners most in need. I’m committed to doing all I can to support Londoners through this cost of living crisis and will continue to urge Ministers to step forward and do the same as we build a more prosperous London for all.”

Charlotte Hill OBE, CEO at The Felix Project said: “We know many parents are struggling to afford to put food on the table and rely on school food banks to top up their weekly shop, alongside free school meals for those who are eligible. When schools are closed families face increased costs and more stress trying to make sure they have enough to feed their children. That is why it is vital food provision continues during school holidays. We are delighted to receive this incredible support from the Mayor of London and be working with The Mayor’s Fund for London so we can provide this lifeline for the next year. I hope it will help low-income families to reduce the ever-increasing pressure on their budgets.”

Dame Helen Mirren DBE, Mayor’s Fund for London ambassador, said: “As a proud ambassador of the Mayor’s Fund for London, I am delighted that the Mayor has announced funding for free holiday meals for Londoners in need. This partnership will help to deliver 10 million meals over the next year. So many families are struggling to get by and are worrying about how to feed their children during the school holidays, so the Mayor’s free holiday meals will make such a difference.”

Anna Taylor, Executive Director of The Food Foundation, said: “The London Mayor has demonstrated inspired leadership in the fight to end child food poverty, and his newest announcement recognises how difficult it can be for low-income families to feed their children when they are out of school and don’t have the nutritional safety net of Free School Meals. Combined with the roll-out of school meals for all London primary schools, this provision will be a real game-changer for parents across our capital who can rest assured that their children will have access to a nutritious meal every day, even if bills are stacking up at home and food costs are spiralling out of control. But the sad truth is that, without central Government taking the necessary action, we’ll see an even greater postcode lottery and children outside of London not on a level playing field. The time is well overdue for Government to address the issue of children missing out on Free School Meals, and therefore not qualifying for free holiday provision, so that all children across our nation have an equal chance to eat healthily and thrive.”

Barbara Crowther, Children’s Food Campaign Co-ordinator at Sustain, said: “It’s a scandal that in our relatively wealthy country, increasing numbers of families with children still cannot access healthy and nutritious food each day. Whilst our food system is broken, schools and local community hubs across London are doing incredible work in providing a nutritional safety net, supported by organisations like the Felix Project and Mayor’s Fund for London. We heartily welcome the Mayor’s new funding package to enable these groups to get more healthy meals to more families over the coming year. Beyond that, we must all keep calling for proper living wages and benefits set at a level that enables people to live with more dignity and afford nutritious food, as well as an end to the stigmatizing means testing of school meals, and healthy school food for every child every day.”

Contact for press queries:

If you’d like to make a press enquiry about this story, you can contact the Mayor’s Fund for London communications team.

Gill Goodby, Director of Communications

Notes to editors:

The Mayor’s Fund for London is a politically independent charity which champions opportunities for young Londoners from low-income backgrounds and diverse communities across the capital. It delivers a suite of programmes for thousands of 4-25-year-olds each year supporting them with access to food, wellbeing, education and employment experiences. The Mayor of London is its patron.

Over the next 12 months, we will be extending our popular Take & Make recipe box series which comes with step-by-step instructions, skill training cards and online video tutorials to build confidence in cooks of all ages.

We will also be offering two new boxes for families across the capital – a ‘Create & Make’ box that uses a variety of surplus food to inspire creative cooking and a ‘Heat & Eat’ box, which contains pre-cooked meals utilising surplus food and can be heated up on-site or by families at home.

In addition, the Mayor’s Fund will continue to run its long-standing Kitchen Social programme with its network of 80 local community hubs (across 25 London boroughs), helping to provide young people and families with a safe place to go during the holidays where they can get a free meal, participate in fun wellbeing activities and socialise with peers.

For more information about the provision available across the capital, visit london.gov.uk/holidaymeals

Polling figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The total sample size was 1,073 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 17–22 March 2023. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all London adults (aged 18+). It is published here:https://data.london.gov.uk/gla-cost-of-living-polling/. Respondents classed as ‘financially struggling’ are those who answered either “I am having to go without my basic needs and/or rely on debt to pay for my basic needs” or “I am struggling to make ends meet”.