More than one million children living in poverty are missing out on free school meals, a leading charity warned today.
The Children's Society found that more than half of the 2.2 million schoolchildren living in poverty in England miss out on a free school lunch.
Around 700,000 of these children are not even entitled to one, often because their parents work regardless of how little they earn, the charity said.
It also revealed that only 22 of England's 533 constituencies had fewer than one in 10 children in poverty missing out on free school meals.
The charity pointed out that for some children a free school lunch may be the only proper meal they get
It added that nearly half of teachers surveyed said they had seen children going hungry in school.
Through its fair and square campaign the charity is urging the government to make free school meals available to all children in poverty and encouraging people to contact their MP to support the call.
The charity, in collaboration with the 38 Degrees campaign group, has already gathered more than 90,000 signatures in support of its campaign.
Children's Society chief executive Matthew Reed said: "It is shocking that huge numbers of children in poverty across the country are missing out on a free school meal. Every child in poverty should be entitled to this vital support."
He suggested that with the introduction of changes to the benefit system under universal credit the government has an "important opportunity" to make sure all children in poverty get a free school meal.