Skip to main content

Pupils: Nutrition

Question for Department for Education

UIN 156463, tabled on 20 April 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to encourage healthy eating in primary schools.

Answered on

27 April 2022

School food is a devolved matter. This answer only applies to England.

The department supports the provision of nutritious food in schools to enable pupils to be well nourished, develop healthy eating habits, and concentrate and learn in school. The government does this by providing the Requirements for School Food Regulations 2014 (school food standards) to ensure the provision of healthy school food, providing free school meals to every pupil in reception, year 1 and year 2 and providing free school meals to the most disadvantaged pupils.

The school food standards regulate the food and drink provided at both lunchtime and at other times of the school day. This includes breakfast clubs, tuck shops, mid-morning break, vending, and after school clubs. Compliance with the standards is mandatory for all maintained schools, including academies and free schools.

Schools also provide children with a free piece of fruit or vegetable each day through the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme, jointly funded by the Department for Education and the Department for Health and Social Care.

In February 2022, the Levelling Up White Paper outlined a number of things the department is doing to strengthen adherence with the school food standards. This includes piloting work with the Foods Standards Agency, investing up to £200,000 in a pilot governor training scheme, and encouraging schools to complete a statement on their school websites setting out their school approach to food. The government will say more about these in the forthcoming Food Strategy White Paper.

Since September 2015, Ofsted inspectors look at how provision supports pupils’ knowledge on how to keep themselves healthy, including through exercising and healthy eating. Healthy eating and opportunities to develop pupils’ cooking skills are covered in the design and technology curriculum in Key Stages 1-3. The principles of a healthy and varied diet are also covered in health education, which became compulsory in state-funded schools in England from September 2020.