A charity has been set up to ensure Jewish children receive kosher school meals after a funding crisis this year meant some youngsters had to go without.
Kosher School Meals, established by Barnet councillors, business leaders, parents and teachers, will raise funding, initially from the private sector, to help maintain the provision of food that meets the needs of Jewish pupils.
The move comes after several London schools reported earlier this year that they were unable to provide hot kosher lunches because costs had become unaffordable.
Extra financial support from City Hall has since helped schools to secure provision. But the organisers of the charity say there is still more to do to ensure schools have long-term support so that those who need kosher meals do not go hungry and run the risk of falling behind their peers.
Eva Greenspan, Barnet councillor for Finchley Church End, is leading the initiative. Cllr Greenspan said: “In the days, weeks and months of trying to tackle the kosher school meals crisis we have had it has become apparent to us that with public money so scarce and restricted, we cannot and should not rely on governments (both locally, regionally and nationally) to provide for us continuously.
“So with that in mind, we hope to use the speed and efficiency of the private sector combined with the care and support of parents to secure the future of our kids and make sure they do not go hungry and lose out on their meals just because they’re Jewish.”
Inflation and the cost-of-living crisis left multiple schools struggling to provide kosher meals earlier this year, leaving hundreds of pupils without hot lunches.
In Barnet, the collapse of a school catering service that supplied Jewish schools added to the crisis.
During the summer, London mayor Sadiq Khan announced extra support for state Jewish schools to cover the costs of kosher meals for key stage two pupils – those aged between seven and eleven – as part of a £5million contingency fund for those with religious dietary requirements.
But the organisers of the charity say that despite the extra money there is still a funding shortfall of more than £2 per pupil at key stages one and two, and they want to ensure financial support for schools is sustainable.
The charity will help to secure funding for Jewish-run and other schools with Jewish pupils who require kosher meals.
Those wishing to provide help and ideas can email the charity at: firstname.lastname@example.org