“It’s a little over a century ago that the idea of free school meals became part of the fabric of British society, and that was only after years of work in Bradford, West Yorkshire, led by – and this is possibly the surprising bit – an American.”
The American woman who made free school meals part of the fabric of British society
With the recent campaign by Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford to provide free meals to schoolchildren throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, its hard to conceive of a time when free school meals weren’t a given in education.
Marcus Rashford has been rightly recognised as a strong role model and social innovator, but it’s important to note that the notion of free school meals originated with a Bradford woman, Margaret McMillan. In 1906, McMillan led the campaign in Bradford to introduce bathrooms, ventilation and free meals to school children in the city later successfully taking the campaign national and working to introduce legislation across Britain for free school meals.
Bradford’s legacy of social innovation and social impact at scale persists to this day thanks to women like McMillan. At Impact Hub Bradford, we’ve placed a focus on supporting social innovators who are women, minority communities and young people – three demographics we believe are underrepresented and will reveal the next Margaret McMillan and the social innovations and impact we’ll need for the 21st century.
(Coincidentally, McMillan’s family originated from Inverness, home to our friends at Impact Hub Inverness.)