Free meals will be offered in all state-funded nurseries across Southwark to combat food poverty and help narrow the gap between middle-class and poorer pupils before they start school.
Ninety-two-per-cent of primary school aged children in the borough already take up the offer of free lunches, and extending the scheme to maintained nurseries and school nursery classes aims to support families struggling financially.
Cllr Evelyn Akoto, cabinet member for community safety and public health, said: “In Southwark we are proud to have been one of the first boroughs to provide Universal Free Healthy School Meals to all our primary schools.
“We know this makes a difference to our young people and our families.
“We think it is vitally important that our primary age children are entitled to a free nutritious lunch and are pleased to say over 92% of our pupils take up this offer.
“Building on this success, we are now extending an offer of healthy food to all maintained nurseries and school nursery classes because we want to support families in Southwark, at a time when we know many are struggling.”
One in four children in Southwark start reception either overweight or obese and one in three have had problems concentrating because they are hungry.
Unhealthy food including fast food is often the cheaper and quicker option for parents struggling to make ends meet or with having the time to cook from scratch.
The free meals scheme will benefit 62 nurseries and 2,800 children as it is rolled out in phases to summer 2020.
Although the cost has not yet been fully determined, £200,000 has already been earmarked for the first wave of funding this financial year.