Skip to main content

Free School Meals

Volume 570: debated on Monday 11 November 2013

5. What plans he has to ensure that all primary schools are able to offer free school meals to all infants. (900987)

My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister has announced that every child in reception—year 1 and year 2—in state-funded schools will be entitled to a free school lunch from September 2014. The Government will say more about the detail of the policy over the next few weeks.

That is a very welcome announcement. On Friday I visited St Mary’s school in Broughton Gifford in my constituency, which does not have kitchen facilities and is no longer in a position to offer its pupils hot lunches. Will the Minister ensure that sufficient capital funding is available to enable small primary schools that do not have kitchen facilities to provide hot lunches to all their infants?

We are certainly ensuring proper capital provision. We have a proud record on not only basic need, but the amounts we are allocating for maintenance, free schools and other parts of the capital programme.

Does the Minister agree that the meals that are provided must be healthy? Some 31% of boys and 29% of girls between the ages of two and 15 are obese, and obesity leads to diabetes. Can we ensure that the meals provided actually help the nutrition for those children?

I certainly agree with the right hon. Gentleman. The challenge is to ensure not only that we expand entitlement right across the country by September 2014, but that the meals are healthy and are delivered effectively in every single school. We shall ensure that we do that exactly as set out in the school food plan published a few months ago.