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Free school dinners could be extended to an extra 600,000 pupils

26 March 2010 by

An additional 600,000 children could be eligible for free school meals, according to plans announced by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

From September, primary school children from low-income families, who are receiving Working Tax Credit, will have access to free school meals as part of a Government proposal published for consultation yesterday.

The plans follow the passing of the Child Poverty Act which enshrines the Government's commitment to "eradicate" child poverty in law. The Government estimates that 50,000 children could be helped out of poverty by extending the eligibility.

Rob Rees, chair of the School Food Trust, said: "Free school meals are crucial in helping families with low incomes to make sure that their children get a well-balanced meal during the school day.

"We know that a good school lunch helps improve children's health, wellbeing and performance so we strongly support these plans to increase the number of families who can benefit."

Children's secretary Ed Balls said the passing of the Act reaffirms the Government's promise to give children the best possible start in life. "As part of this commitment, I'm pleased to be announcing today new plans to extend free school meals to primary school children whose families are on working tax credit.

"This will give thousands more families the confidence and financial security they need to help lift them out of poverty."

Visit the DCSF's consultation online >>

Support Caterer's School Meals Matter campaign >>

Consultation document casts doubt on school meals >>

Healthy school meals - what are you doing to help? >>

Only 1% of packed lunches in primary schools meet nutritional standards >>

Free school dinner pilot boosts uptake in County Durham to 86% >>
By Janie Stamford

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