Free School Meals
My response to the Campaign regarding the provision and nutritional value of free school meals.
Thank you for contacting me regarding the provision and the nutritional value of free school meals.
All children should be able to enjoy healthy food at school every day and develop healthy eating habits that will stay with them throughout their lives.
I believe it is imperative that children have regular healthy and balanced meals throughout the day, to ensure they are able to thrive in the classroom. We know that hunger has a detrimental effect on a child's ability to focus and learn.
The Government is keenly aware of the impact that the cost of living crisis is having on families across the country.
The Free School Meals (Primary Schools) Bill is scheduled for its second reading on 30th June 2023.
I understand that there have been some concerns about free school meals not being extended to include provision for all students at school. The Government has extended eligibility for free school meals several times, and to more groups of children than any other over the past half century, which now targets those most in need. Over one third of pupils in England now receive free school meals in education settings.
I have seen this positive development over recent decades.
The current situation with regards to free school meal provision is, in my view, the best it has ever been.
The Government has recently announced further investment of up to £30 million for the National School Breakfast Programme, extending the programme for another year until July 2024.
There is always room for improvement. Standards can and should always be on a positive trajectory. Support should always be flexible and responsive to serve those most in need.
It is vital this kind of help remains focused on providing support where it is most needed.
I can assure you that this is an issue I will continue to monitor closely and will support any sensible provisions to further enhance provisions for families and for children.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Sir Peter Bottomley MP