Zayn Malik writes letter to PM urging him to widen free school meals threshold

Singer Zayn Malik has urged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to offer free school meals to children who are in need.

The former One Direction star once relied on free school dinners while growing up in Bradford, West Yorkshire and hopes no child will have to experience "hunger" and "stigma" he felt as a child.

Zayn, 29, was recently named as an ambassador for the Food Foundation and is urging the Rishi to use his November budget to extend the threshold to include young people from families who are on universal credit.

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In the heartfelt letter that he also posted on Instagram, the star said: "These children are suffering from lack of concentration, some even resorting to stealing food from school canteens because they are so hungry but can't afford to buy lunch.

"They are also feeling shame which is directly impacting their physical and mental health. I know what that shame feels like, I have seen it first-hand, as growing up in Bradford, I relied on free school meals."

He then went to share his own personal trauma and said: "I personally experienced the stigma surrounding food insecurity.

"My hope is that in writing this letter we can all ensure that no child ever has to experience this hunger and stigma again as my experience is not unique; it is a struggle that many children in England are sadly going through right now."

At the end of his letter addressed to the PM, the Night Changes singer said: "As prime minister, you have the power to change this.

At the end of his letter addressed to the PM, the Night Changes singer said: "As prime minister, you have the power to change this.

"Please act in good conscience and commit in your budget on 17 November to giving all children living in poverty a free school meal.

"Children going hungry is not inevitable and should not come down to a political issue or ideology."

According to research by the Child Poverty Action Group, there is currently around 800,000 kids living in poverty in England who miss out on free school lunches.

In response to Zayn's personal message, a government spokesperson said: "We have expanded access to free school meals more than any other government in recent decades, which currently reach 1.9 million children.

"We are also investing up to £24 million in our National School Breakfast Programme, which provides free breakfasts to children in schools in disadvantaged areas."

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