Free school meals: one year on

THERE WAS better news for free school meals this week, with new research suggesting 95% of parents who have taken up the offer for their kids recognising the benefits.

Foodservice Footprint 6 Free school meals: one year on Foodservice News and Information Grocery sector news updates Out of Home sector news  John Vincent Henry Dembleby Free School Meals Department of Education










Most parents highlighted the variety of food their child eats and the fact they enjoy a proper meal at lunchtime as the main benefits (both 23%). The chance to try new foods (19%) and socialise (15%) were the other most positive impacts.


The findings come just a week after the Daily Mail suggested the policy is under review. Whitehall sources told the paper that the project will be cut as part of the Department for Education’s spending review plans, saving a reported £600m a year.


More than 500 head teachers have since signed a letter calling on government to extend the scheme to children under the age of 11.


Free school lunches for four to seven year-olds were introduced in September 2014 following a review by restaurateurs John Vincent and Henry Dimbleby.


Figures from the Department for Education show that 85.5% of all infants – more than 1.6 million – are taking up the offer.


Pilots for free school meals in Newham and Durham showed a 23% increase in the number of children eating vegetables at lunch and an 18% drop in crisps.


Footprint’s October magazine will include a full analysis of the free school meal policy since its introduction last year.