Nick Clegg pledges free school meals expansion

30 April 2015 by
Nick Clegg pledges free school meals expansion
The universal free school meals programme will be extended to all primary school children in England under a new £610m-a-year plan being pledged by the Liberal Democrats.
The news follows the introduction of the scheme to all key stage one infant school pupils in September last year as part of a policy led by party leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.
Seven to 11-year old school children will be entitled to a free meal from 2017/18, while the Liberal Democrat expansion plan would also see around £100m earmarked for improvements to school kitchens and dining facilities in primary schools.
Clegg said: "Liberal Democrats want every child to have the best possible start in life. That's why I want every child to have a hot, healthy school lunch.
"We know that giving children a healthy lunch helps them to concentrate in the afternoon and do better in class. It will also save parents £400 for every child they have in primary school."
The party said the scheme would be introduced from 2017/18 after the deficit has been eliminated, and will be paid for ‘as resources allow' as public spending rises in line with economic growth.
The Lib Dems said pilot schemes show a 23% increase in the number of children eating vegetables at lunch and an 18% drop in those eating crisps.
Commenting on the plan, the Lead Association for Catering in Education (LACA), told The *Caterer*: "LACA really welcomes the commitment to extend free school meals to all primary school students as our members understand the benefits of a healthy nutritious meal every school day; though it is not our place to comment on how the scheme would be funded, that decision rests with Government and the politicians. Nutritious school food has been shown to be key in improving concentration, behaviour and attainment amongst pupils and any moves to increase the amount of students that receive healthy school meals is a wholly positive step."
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