Archbishop Cottrell Joins Forces With York Council In Historic Free School Meals Push

In a significant move towards combating child poverty, the City of York Council, in partnership with the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, has launched a robust campaign for the 'Hungry Minds Free School Meals' initiative. This scheme aligns with the council's recently adopted 'One City, for all' Council Plan, which is dedicated to progressing York towards an anti-poverty city. The focus is on supporting young people and families, reducing food insecurity, and exploring universal free school meals for all primary school children.

The campaign gains momentum as major donors have recently funded pilots of free school meals in two York schools. The Archbishop has played a pivotal role in advocating for this initiative, especially during the run-up to Christmas. In a heartfelt video, available on the City of York’s website and social media channels, Archbishop Cottrell appeals to residents and businesses to support this noble cause, stating, “There are children at school today who are hungry and falling behind because of that. The Hungry Minds appeal has a huge vision. If you can, please give generously to the Hungry Mind appeal. This is one way in which we can make a significant difference.”

Councillor Bob Webb, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education, expressed gratitude towards the Archbishop for his support and insight. “The growing momentum behind this city-wide partnership to improve the attendance, wellbeing and attainment of children in York's schools is remarkable, and really powerful,” he said, echoing the Archbishop's call for support.

The pilot scheme, which is a testament to community collaboration and generosity, will be rolled out to a second school next term. Burton Green Primary School will commence a pilot offering free breakfasts to all children in early 2024, made possible by substantial donations to the York Community Fund’s York Hungry Minds Appeal from the Persimmon Foundation and the Sylvia and Colin Shepherd Charitable Trust. Simultaneously, Westfield Community Primary School will pilot free school lunches for Key Stage 2 children (years 3-6) from January to December 2024, funded by City of York Council.

These pilots are not just about feeding children but are integral to a larger vision of reducing health inequalities and supporting children’s learning capabilities, particularly among the disadvantaged. The initiative is open for donations through the York Community Fund, facilitated by the partnership between City of York Council and Two Ridings Community Foundation. This collaboration is set to foster community action and improve the wellbeing of people in the city.

William Gomes
William Gomes

South Asia correspondent.
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