Government figures show 1.3 million children eating a healthier lunch thanks to UIFSM
18/12/2014 - 10:15

The Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM) programme has reached 85% of all infants in England according to official Government figures released today.

1.3 million more children are now eating a healthy lunch since the UIFSM policy launched in September. In its first three months, 1,640,530 children in total now benefit from a free school meal at lunchtime. The news comes as Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg visits Hallfield Primary School in London to see how the new policy is benefiting children.

Nick Clegg said: “Well over a million and a half infants are enjoying a school meal at lunchtime, giving them a better start to afternoon lessons and a healthy boost for their first years in school. The other good news for families is that this saves them up to £400 per child a year on the cost of a packed lunch. The naysayers about this policy can eat their hats, and all the leftover sprouts.”

School children will munch their way through 25,000 turkeys and 9.8 million sprouts this Christmas if every child included in the new data has a Christmas school meal.

Schools Minister David Laws said: “Christmas marks the end of a first successful term of delivering universal infant free school meals, and it is testament to the efforts put in by school staff, caterers and local authorities that more children all over England are enjoying the benefits of a great tasting, nutritional meal at lunch.

“Free school meals save parents money and ensure children are focused and able to concentrate throughout the day. Now we want to encourage more schools to focus on quality, and continue building on the huge steps we have already made since September.”

Carieanne Bishop, Lead Association for Catering in Education (LACA) chair, said: “The introduction of infant free school meals has been a huge success in promoting healthy food to children and raising the profile of school food. We have some of the best school cooks in the world working hard to serve great quality meals to students every day.

“A good school lunch helps young people recharge their batteries to be at their best for afternoon lessons, and for many students a school lunch is the only hot and healthy meal they will get in the day. The success of infant free schools meals is a sign that we need to continue to invest in and improve the school food on offer to our students.”

UIFSM addresses the common misconception that a packed lunch is healthier than a school meal. In fact only 1% of packed lunches meet the nutritional standards that currently apply to school food, according to Government information.