Third Sector Awards: Big Impact Award – End Child Food Poverty Coalition

Awarded to a project that has had a substantial impact on national or international life

Big Impact Award – End Child Food Poverty Coalition

Who was the aim of the project?

When the pandemic forced schools across the UK to close, about 1.4 million children who normally received free school meals were put at risk of greater food insecurity, and school caterers were left with pre-ordered food stocks. A coalition of more than 25 organisations convened by Sustain, Food Foundation, School Food Matters, Bite Back 2030, Chefs in Schools and the Soil Association came together to secure continued access to free school meals so that no disadvantaged child would go hungry.

What was the project’s approach?

The coalition undertook a tightly co-ordinated campaign combining research, direct advocacy, public campaigning, briefing of MPs and a legal challenge in partnership with the Good Law Project. The project gained support from a broad coalition of charities, school leaders and young advocates to attract national attention.

What did it achieve?

The coalition succeeded in gaining significant parliamentary support and securing national media coverage, triggering footballer Marcus Rashford to step in in early June 2020. The project influenced important changes to government policy, including the extension of eligibility to free school meals for children with no recourse to public funds, and extension of free school meal vouchers during the Easter, May half-term and summer holidays in 2020. The coalition also achieved improvements in government guidance for caterers, ensuring schools or local authorities deploying alternatives to the national voucher scheme were refunded, not penalised.

The End Child Food Poverty Coalition gathered more than one million signatures in support of Marcus Rashford's campaign, only the fifth petition to have broken this barrier in the Westminster epetition system's history. It secured the Covid Winter Grant Scheme, an additional £170m for local authorities to respond to families facing food insecurity and other challenges. The campaign now continues with calls for a broader review of school food.

What did the judges say?

“A far-reaching, data-driven, successful campaign, which not only addressed the immediate crisis but also brought about long-term change.”

Highly commended

  • Twinings and Save the Children


  • NHS Charities Together
  • Royal Mencap Society
  • Trussell Trust
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