Feed the Future: Free school meals are worth it

11 October 2022
We launch our Feed the Future campaign with an ambitious cost-benefit analysis of free school meals.

Today we join fellow members of the School Food Review and others in launching our Feed the Future campaign, demanding the government extend free school meals (FSM) to more children.

We are excited to reveal a new report from Impact on Urban Health, Expanding free school meals: a cost benefit analysis. This analysis, which PwC was commissioned to carry out, explores two scenarios for extending free school meals:

  1. to all children from families in receipt of universal credit

          For every £1 invested in this scenario, £1.38 would be returned

  1. to all children in state-funded education in England

          For every £1 invested in this scenario, £1.71 would be returned

These results ratify our understanding that expanding FSM is worth it: not just for the moral, health, social and educational reasons, but also for economic reasons.

The analysis considers a 20-year period and calculates that providing FSM for all children from families in receipt of universal credit will cost £6.4 billion, while generating £8.9 billion in ‘core’ benefits and a further £16.2 billion in ‘wider’ benefits.

Implementing universal free school meals will cost £24.2 billion over 20 years and see a return of £41.3 billion in ‘core’ benefits and £58.2 billion in ‘wider’ benefits, meaning the total benefits from the investment in universal free school meals over 20 years will be a whopping £99.5 billion.

As the cost of living crisis continues, and recession looms, the government must now do the right thing for its people and our economy. The question is no longer ‘Why would we expand free school meals?’ But ‘Why wouldn’t we expand free school meals?’

 

Support the campaign to extend free school meals by writing to your MP here (takes less than a minute).

Expanding free school meals: a cost benefit analysis can be read in full here.