Quarter-of-a-million London children living in food poverty

New London Assembly report paints bleak picture of struggling families in the capital, reports Joe Talora, Local Democracy Reporter

The new home for City Hall at The Crystal in East London
City Hall

As many as 250,000 children in London are believed to be living in food poverty according to a “heart-breaking” new report.

A 2021 to 2022 survey conducted by the Mayor of London found that 14% of children in the capital aged 16 or under had “low” or “very low” food security – equivalent to around 237,000 children.

But a new report from Labour’s London Assembly member Marina Ahmad has found that the recent economic downturn and soaring inflation is likely to have pushed the figure past the quarter-of-a-million mark.

The report draws on previous research from the Food Foundation, which found that food insecurity had doubled nationally in 2022, and from the Independent Food Aid Network, which found that 91% of foodbanks have seen demand increase since July this year.

Ahmad, who chairs the London Assembly’s economy committee, has said the figures “will only increase” as the cost-of-living crisis continues to spiral.

She said: “It is heart-breaking that children go to school, go out to play and go to bed, hungry. My report highlights that quarter of a million children in London are living this experience, every day.

This story is published by Enfield Dispatch, Enfield's free monthly newspaper and free news website. We are a not-for-profit publication, published by a small social enterprise. We have no rich backers and rely on the support of our readers. Donate or become a supporter.

“People are no longer choosing between eating or heating. All too often they cannot afford either. Too many parents are giving up meals every day so that their children can eat.”

The report recommends City Hall set up a childhood commission for London to map out a path to eliminating child poverty in the capital, while continuing to lobby the government for universal free school meals for all primary and secondary school children.

Last month, London mayor Sadiq Khan renewed calls for universal free school meals and revealed that City Hall analysis had found families could save £440 across the academic year if they were introduced.

Khan said: “The government must act now to introduce universal free school meals for all primary school children. This would help build a better London for everyone, saving families hundreds of pounds a year, ensuring all primary pupils are eating a healthy, nutritious meal at school and also eliminating the stigma associated with being eligible for free school meals, to increase uptake among those who need it most.”

The government has said that it has “expanded access to free school meals more than any other government in recent decades”, with around 1.9 million children now eligible.

To qualify for free school meals, a household on Universal Credit in England must earn less than £7,400 a year after tax regardless of how many children are in the family.

We know times are hard

If you are struggling to make ends meet, we are keeping Enfield Dispatch free because of you. We know that many people cannot afford to pay for local news, so this website and our print paper will always be free. If you can afford to, and value what we do, a small monthly, yearly or one-off contribution can support us to keep providing quality journalism for Enfield to our community for free.

Monthly direct debit 

Annual direct debit

£5 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else, £10 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else and a print copy posted to them each month. £50 annual supporters get a digital copy of each month's paper before anyone else.  

Donate now with Pay Pal

More information on supporting us monthly or yearly 

More Information about donations