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Primary Education: School Meals

Volume 479: debated on Monday 1 September 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps his Department is taking to increase the provision and take-up of healthy school meals in primary schools. (221728)

The Department is taking a number of steps to increase the take up of meals served in primary schools and to ensure all children have access to healthy food whilst at school.

School lunch take-up is one of the indicators in the new Child Health PSA and is one of the indicators in the National Indicator Set. New food-based nutritional standards were introduced in September 2006 for school lunches and from September 2007 for other school food. Nutrient-based standards will be introduced for school lunches in September 2008 for primary schools and September 2009 for secondary schools.

We are investing over £650 million between 2005 and 2011 to help improve school food and keep school lunch prices down. This includes funding to help build kitchens in areas with no kitchen facilities and to better support the development of training centres for the school food workforce. We are also providing an extra £6 million over the next three years to promote healthy food to young people and raise take up.

Increasing school lunch take-up is also a priority for the School Food Trust. The Trust is supporting schools through its Million Meals Campaign and encouraging healthier eating through its Get Real media campaign aimed at young people. That work is having an impact as shown by the provisional findings from their third annual survey of take up of school meals, reporting on the 2007-08 financial year. In primary schools take up in 2007-08 was 43.6 per cent. an increase of 2.3 percentage points on the value reported for 2006-07 of 41.3 per cent. These figures illustrate that the number of primary school children eating school meals rose by roughly 88000 from 2006-07 to 2007-08.