Free school lunches for infants


A package of measures to help support schools to deliver free school lunches to all infant children has been launched by Schools Minister David Laws.

Under the measures, all infant children in state-funded schools in England will be entitled to a free school meal from September 2014. Each small school will receive a minimum of £3,000 funding to extend or improve kitchen facilities, and address transitional costs, in addition to the £2.30 per child per day revenue funding. Overall, the government is providing £150 million to help schools expand their kitchen and dining facilities, where needed.

Schools Minister David Laws said: “Parents presently spend around £400 for lunches for each child every year and we want to do all we can to help ease the pressure on household budgets - putting money back in families’ pockets.”

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) welcomed the announcement, but said there was still a lot of work to be done before the scheme is implemented in September.

Russell Hobby, the NAHT's general secretary, said all schools supported the principle of providing nutritious lunches to to pupils, but that no one should "underestimate the challenge of delivering it".

"There are practicalities remaining to be addressed on how every primary will be able to deliver the full service by September", he said, "especially for those without existing catering facilities on site and with so many other initiatives hitting schools at the same time.

The Department for Education is also launching a consultation to simplify school food standards - cutting bureaucracy for schools.

The current standards are overcomplicated and can involve schools verifying the amount of nutrients such as zinc and vitamin A that are in meals. The new standards will be simplified and manageable - focusing on tasty healthy meals for all children.

From September, all eligible children will also have access to their free school meal entitlement regardless of whether they attend school, sixth form or college - creating a fair and consistent system across the country.