A PETITION has been set up by a Southend man calling to extend free school meals to all UK school pupils.

The petition comes following the news that children at a school in Wales were going to be refused a meal if their dinner debt was more than 1p.

Despite this issue now being resolved, Simon Harris, the organiser of the petition, said it is now time to look at free school meals for everyone.

“Off the back of that I thought it is genuinely time we look at the free school meals argument again, because when you think about all the other things the government spend money on, I don’t think the total money for free school meals in England would be money badly spent. It would stop so much of this uncertainty about kids getting a hot meal.”

Simon, who is a blogger, originally offered to pay any outstanding debt at the Welsh school that said it wouldn’t feed children if their accounts were in debt.

He said: “Now, obviously, the governors of the school have rescinded that idea, but, as I do a lot of fundraisers for food banks and things like that, I had a bit left to cover the £1,800 owed.

“There was only a small chance they would accept it anyway, and they never got back to me.”

Since starting the petition, Simon said he has received so many messages: “The number of inboxes I’ve had since saying I’ve been affected by this, and that my kid has been refused meals.

He also said he has had parents say their children have been bullied because they get free school meals.

“One said they all know my kid is on free school meals so he gets bullied, so I think if everyone was on free school meals there would be no stigma.”

If you would like to sign the petition, visit: https://bit.ly/3cDimTm