School Food Matters welcomes ‘bold and ambitious’ National Food Strategy plans for schools

15 July 2021
New recommendations for extending eligibility for free school meals and support to deliver food education are at the heart of the recommendations in the National Food Strategy (NFS), published on Thursday.

Stephanie Slater, Founder and Chief Executive, School Food Matters said: “There is so much to be excited about in the National Food Strategy. Henry Dimbleby and his team have spent two years listening and learning from families to work out the best way to support them to live healthier lives. We wholeheartedly support this bold and ambitious strategy, particularly the recommendations to extend free school meals, to commit to at least three years funding for the Holiday Food and Activities programme and to reframe food education as subject worthy of the same attention as English and Maths."

During the pandemic, School Food Matters ran a successful Breakfast Box programme to deliver healthy breakfasts to families in need. The programme has delivered over a million breakfasts since March 2020, and research by School Food Matters showed that one in four families who needed our help could not access free school meals.

Stephanie Slater continues: “We wholeheartedly welcome the recommendation to extend eligibility for free school meals. If Government gets behind this recommendation, it will be a huge step towards the ambition of free school meals for all."

Food education is central to the mission of the charity School Food Matters. With over 15 years' experience of working directly with schools to deliver food education programmes, the charity understands the value of giving children the opportunity to learn about food.

The NFS recognises that it’s time to take food education seriously and is proposing the Eat and Learn initiative. This is important as in its thematic review of obesity and healthy eating in primary schools, Ofsted reported that despite cooking being in the curriculum, the proportion of children being taught to cook was very low. This is a missed opportunity for both children and their families, as the report goes on to say that 51% parents said that lessons learned about food in school had helped their child to make healthy choices.

Stephanie Slater continues: “We’re delighted to see this renewed focus on food education from early years to A-Level through the proposed Eat and Learn Initiative. And by shoring up the initiative with accreditation, inspection by Ofsted and government funding for ingredients we have a real chance of fulfilling the vision of the School Food Plan, with every child learning the skills they need for a happy and healthy life.”


Note to editors

About School Food Matters

School Food Matters exists to teach children about food and to improve children’s access to healthy, sustainable food during their time at school.

We provide fully funded food education programmes to schools. Our experience delivering these programmes informs and strengthens our campaigns, bringing the voices of children, parents and teachers to government policy.

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About National Food Strategy

The National Food Strategy is an independent review commissioned by government to set out a vision and a plan for a better food system. The review is led by Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of Leon restaurants, the lead non-executive director at Defra and co-author of The School Food Plan.

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