Hammersmith and Fulham (H&F) council has launched a pilot scheme which gives all pupils free breakfast and lunch irrespective of their background.
From September, free breakfasts will be universal for all primary school pupils in H&F regardless of family income, and from January 2020 the council will be the first in England and Wales to roll out a pilot scheme to deliver free lunches in two secondary schools.
The scheme will be paid for entirely by community contributions won by the council taking a tough approach in negotiations with property developers, who have helped boost the council’s resources in return for planning permission on new housing schemes. About £643m has been raised from property developers since 2014, the council said.
The £3.7m-scheme means the council fund around 10,000 primary school pupils that provide breakfast clubs to make them free to parents.
It is estimated that the new scheme could save a struggling parent £380 per year for every child in primary school, and save each primary school an estimated £5,700 annually.
The plans have been hailed as a "war on food poverty" that could dramatically benefit children’s ability to concentrate and learn in school.
Alison Garnham, chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said: “We all want children to get the most out of their education. But research we published with UCL shows that too many kids are routinely going hungry during the school day because there isn’t enough money at home. That isn’t right.
“Poverty and hunger exclude children from some learning and social opportunities and leave them exposed to stigma and shame. Hammersmith and Fulham’s pilot recognises the scale of the problem and strives to address it head on.”