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School Meals

Volume 475: debated on Monday 28 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) whether his Department met its target to increase the uptake of school meals by March 2008; and if he will make a statement; (201122)

(2) how much his Department and its predecessors spent on school meals provision in each financial year since 2000-01; and what its planned expenditure is in each financial year from 2008-09 to 2011-12;

(3) how many local authority school meal services were in deficit in (a) 2005-06, (b) 2006-07 and (c) 2007-08; and if he will make a statement;

(4) how many and what proportion of pupils in (a) primary and (b) secondary schools had school meals in (i) 2001, (ii) 2004, (iii) 2005, (iv) 2006 and (v) 2007; what the equivalent figures are to date in 2008; what target has been set for school meal consumption in (A) 2009, (B) 2010 and (C) 2011; and if he will make a statement.

Increasing the take-up of school lunches remains a priority for this Department and for the School Food Trust (SFT), as demonstrated by the fact that it is one of the indicators in the new Child Health PSA and is one of the indicators in the National Indicator Set—PSA 12 of the 2007 CSR (‘Improve the health and well-being of children and young people’); and an indicator of the local government National Indicator Set (NIS) (NI52—Take-up of school lunches).

The SFT is currently undertaking its third annual survey of school lunch take-up, which will provide information on the current position. The results of the survey will be announced at the Local Authority Caterers’ Association annual conference in July 2008.

The Department does not fund school meals’ provision. That is the responsibility of local authorities, schools, parents and carers. However, this Government are investing £656 million to support school meals provision between 2005-11. This figure can be broken down as follows:

£ million

2005-06

61

2006-07

87

2007-08

89.5

2008-09

242

2009-10

89

2010-11

88

We do not have data on how many school meal services were in deficit in 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08.

In response to question 201208, I would refer the hon. Member to the response that I gave on 8 October 2007, Official Report, column 400W.