Newham Guarantees Free School Meals for all Primary Pupils
Newham Council has committed to continuing its Eat for Free programme, allowing all primary school children to enjoy a free school meal. This is despite needing to make millions of pounds worth of cuts to ‘non-core’ services.
Since 2014, the Government has provided Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM) to all reception, year 1 and year 2 children in England. This has improved take-up of school meals, meaning that more children are receiving a nutritious lunch. Receiving a healthy school meal is shown to improve pupil attendance, behaviour and attainment.
Recognising the importance of school food, Newham Council has run its Eat for Free programme since 2009, saving each household an average of £500 per year per child. Even in the face of £250m of cuts over 10 years, the Council has announced it will continue to spend £6m per year ensuring all primary pupils will receive a free lunch. during term time.
At School Food Matters, we believe UIFSM is a vital policy for the development of healthy eating habits amongst our youngest school children. With Marcus Rashford and many others, we have called for a comprehensive review of free school meals to better understand the impact of all school food policies on stigma, children’s health and learning outcomes.
The Covid crisis has revealed cracks in the way we support our most vulnerable children and we now have the opportunity to design a more equitable system to that every child has access to the nutritious food to reach their full potential.
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