Jamie Oliver has headed a group of industry heavyweights who have have slammed the Conservative party’s plan to scrap universal infant school meals as “madness”.
In a letter to the Sunday Times, Oliver, together with co-signatories Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent, co-founders of healthy fast-food chain Leon, and food writer and chef Yotam Ottolenghi, said that they were were “shocked and disappointed” by the proposal outlined last week by prime minister Theresa May at the launch of the Conservative manifesto.
Dimbleby and Vincent’s report on school meals, commissioned by the coalition government of 2010-15, led to the introduction of free lunches for infant children nearly four years ago.
As a result, “more than 80% of pupils in the first three years of primary school are now eating a healthy school lunch, compared with less than 45% in 2013”, according to Oliver and co, who believe that one and a half million children will now go without a hot lunch at school.
The letter urged May to reconsider her proposals “for the health of the nation” and highlighted that the plan will have the greatest academic impact on the poorest households, contradicting the prime minister’s pledge to help families in need.
It is estimated that £650m could be saved by the proposal to axe lunches for under-seven pupils.
The Conservatives said that will replace the lunches with a free breakfast.
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