A pilot project for two York primary schools to receive free school meals has been approved, subject to funding from a community pot.

City of York Council has asked local organisations to contribute to the fund which will pay for primary school children to have a free meal during the day.

The council has now contributed £100,000, however it needs another £30,000 to be fundraised for the 12-month pilot to go ahead.

The pilot project focuses on the delivery of a lunchtime meal at Westfield Primary School between January and December 2024.

Breakfast for all pupils attending Burton Green Primary Academy will also be piloted for the same time period, if funds are raised.

Executive member for children, young people and education Cllr Bob Webb said: “I’m absolutely delighted that we are beginning to deliver on our pledge to deliver free school meals in the city.

“Young people in York really struggle because of the cost of living crisis and we are supporting our most vulnerable first and we are really glad to be starting in Westfield Primary.

“It’s a fantastic moment for the city and we hope it’s the beginning of a bigger process over time.”


The community pot funding model was chosen because of the council’s financial problems; it is currently forecast to overspend by £11.1 million this year and Labour needs to save £40 million by Spring 2027.

“We’ve got partners who are clearly supporting that [community fund],” Cllr Webb said.

“Obviously it’s going to develop over time and it will be whatever the city makes of it.

“We are going to do what we can to deliver as much as we can to as many young people as we can.

“Yes, finances are tough and that’s why we’ve chosen this model of doing this as a city, rather than just as a council.”

Leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group Cllr Nigel Ayre said: “It’s good that we’re seeing key stage two children in Westfield who will be in receipt of free school lunches – and children in Burton Green will hopefully receive free school breakfasts.

“As Liberal Democrats we want this to be every child and we have a national plan to deliver it, unlike Keir Starmer and the Labour Party who have abandoned their pledge to deliver free school meals for all primary school children.”

Cllr Ayre noted that if sufficient funds are not raised, there could be unintended consequences.

“The [Labour] manifesto pledge was unequivocal: ensure every primary school child gets a free school meal,” he said.

“If free school meals are not delivered beyond the pilot, the parents who have budgeted for their children to receive free school meals will face serious hardship in adjusting back to not receiving them.”

Council leader Cllr Claire Douglas said: “We’ve done this in an appropriate manner so our partners can make their own decisions.”

She added: “We’ve got some really key people who’re going to support it.”