Academic recognised for contribution to parliamentary briefing
A University of Wolverhampton academic has been recognised for his research work and external review of an important parliamentary briefing about child food insecurity in relation to free school meals.
Dr Gurpinder Singh Lalli, Reader in Education for Social Justice & Inclusion in the School of Education at the University, was recognised for his key research contributions and acted as an external reviewer to the parliamentary Child Food Insecurity and Free School Meals briefing which was published in July 2023.
Gurpinder's work was cited in the high-level research document which aims to highlight the impact of food on learning and well-being. The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) note summarises child food insecurity and Free School Meal initiatives in England, highlighting relevant research evidence and stakeholder perspectives.
Research has found that food insecurity increases mental and physical health risks, including dental decay and obesity, and affects educational and lifetime attainment.
In January 2023, the Food Foundation estimated that 24% of households with children were living in food insecurity.
Dr Singh Lalli said: “Free School Meals (FSM) initiatives require local authorities to provide eligible pupils with weekday nutritious term-time meals. While it is difficult to measure the effect of FSM on food insecurity directly, FSM can provide health, educational and economic benefits.
“Challenges include sufficient funding, achieving high nutritional quality of food, and the potential for stigma associated with means-tested FSM eligibility. Means-tested eligibility criteria also prevent some children living in poverty from gaining entitlement.
“Stakeholders have suggested future policy considerations including revised funding, improved food quality and monitoring, school-wide cultural changes, and expansion of FSM, including to all children in families receiving universal credit and universal provision to children regardless of circumstance.”
Gurpinder is a Reader in Education for Social Justice and Inclusion in the School of Education. Trained as a sociologist and ethnographer, he has a track record in conducting research on the school meals service with a focus on inequity in education.
He is also an award-winning researcher and has authored 4 books. These include Schools, Food and Social Learning (Routledge, 2019), School Farms: Feeding and educating children (Routledge, 2021), Schools, Space and Culinary Capital (Routledge, 2022) and Food Futures in Education and Society (Routledge, 2023).
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