Skip to main content

School Meals

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 9 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many schools provide a school meals service; what estimate he has made of the number of pupils eating school meals; what assessment he has made of the financial viability of the school meals service in secondary schools; and if he will make a statement. (154785)

The Department does not collect this information. However, the School Food Trust’s (SFT) second annual survey of take-up of school meals in England (published in September 2007), which is based on responses from 104 local authorities, reports that, in 2006-07, 90.7 per cent. of primary schools and 57.6 per cent. of secondary schools offered school lunches; and that 41 per cent. of primary pupils and 38 per cent. of secondary pupils ate school lunches.

In addition, the Local Authority Caterers Association’s (LACA) ‘National School Meals Survey 2007’ which is based on responses from 94 LACA member authorities, reports that 65 per cent. of local authority caterers forecast a deficit on 2006-07 trading; and that 51 per cent. forecast a deficit on 2007-08 trading.

Increasing take-up of school lunches is a priority for my Department and for the SFT.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) if he will list the planned changes to school meal standards in England in each year from 2007 to 2011; and if he will make a statement; (155979)

(2) how many school lunches were served in England in each year from 1996-97 to 2007-08; and if he will make a statement;

(3) if he will make a statement on the Government's progress towards their target of increased take-up of school meals.

Standards for school food are being introduced to the following timetable:

September 2006: food-based standards for school lunches;

September 2007: food-based standards for all food provided in schools;

September 2008: nutrient-based standards for school lunches in primary schools; and

September 2009: nutrient-based standards for school lunches in secondary schools.

This Department does not collect information on the number of school lunches served annually. However, the National Audit Office report, ‘Smarter food procurement in the public sector’, published in March 2006, stated that the number of meals served annually was 617 million.

The School Food Trust (SFT) recently published its second annual survey of take-up of school meals in England. This showed that, between 2005-06 and 2006-07, school lunch take-up fell by one percentage point in primary schools (from 42.3 per cent. to 41.3 per cent.) and by five percentage points in secondary schools (from 42.7 per cent. to 37.7 per cent.).

The SFT has a target to increase take-up of school lunches, from the 2008-06 baseline, by four percentage points by March 2008; and by 10 percentage points by the end of 2009.

Increasing take-up of school lunches is a priority for my Department and for the SFT.