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Thousands of children are going hungry at school

A report has revealed thousands of children are going hungry at school Credit: ITV London

New evidence of children in London going hungry has prompted a renewed push for more free school meals. A report by the Children's Society found 3 out of 4 teachers have witnessed students with no lunch, and no means to pay for one.

Thousands of school children are going hungry because they cannot afford lunch but are not entitled to free meals.

Conisborough College in south London has had to use money from the school budget to feed pupils.

Dinner lady Maggie Connolly says she can see how much parents are struggling and many children become hungry at school:

Dinner-lady Maggiee Connolly says the school will not allow children to go hungry Credit: ITV London

"As a school we saw that need, we put together packed lunches so that they have something to eat, even though they're not entitled to the free school meals, we won't see any child go without a meal."

Schoolchildren say some children do not claim free meals as they feel embarrassed Credit: ITV London

That principle is leading many teachers to feed their class, a survey by The Children's Society found 72% knew of pupils going without lunch.

Matthew Reed from the Children's Society says the aim is when the new benefits system is launched next year each no child will go hungry:

Matthew Reed from The Children's Society hopes the new benefits system will ensure every child has a meal Credit: ITV London

"We want to make sure when the new benefit system comes in, in 2013, the Universal Credit system, that every child from a low-income family have access to a free school meal, that would make a huge difference to their lives."

However there are other barriers, around 1/3 of children entitled to free school-meals do not ask for them, with pupils stating embarrassment or fear of bullying as one of the reasons for not claiming them.