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Primary Education: Free School Meals

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL5068, tabled on 23 February 2015

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the success of the free school lunch programme for the under-sevens.

Answered on

3 March 2015

The universal infant free school meals (UIFSM) programme is a great success. Evidence collected from local authorities and multi-academy trusts in August 2014 suggested that 98.5% of schools would be providing hot meals from the start of the autumn term; and the Department for Education is not aware of any schools which are not offering free meals to all their infant pupils. Over 1.6 million infant pupils (85.2% of all infant pupils) took a free school meal on autumn census day in October 2014 – 1.3 million more than were estimated to have taken a free school meal in the January 2014 school census, prior to the introduction of UIFSM. We know from pilots run between 2009 and 2011 that the introduction of universal free school meals helps to improve social skills, increase attainment and encourage healthy choices, as well as saving hard-working families money.