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FPH expresses concern over government plans to cut free school meals scheme

FPH has signed a letter to Michael Gove, criticising the Education Secretary’s decision to scrap the plans that would have extended eligibility for free school meals for 500,000 primary school children from low-income families.

The letter organised by Sustain and signed together with health organisations, including the Royal College of Nursing, Diabetes UK and the National Heart Forum, says:

"Ensuring that all primary school children living in poverty receive a healthy school meal would make a considerable contribution to reducing both education and health inequalities.

"In a country where almost one-third of children are overweight or obese by the time they reach the end of primary school, school meals have an important role to play in developing healthy eating habits.

“Only one per cent of packed lunches meet the nutritional standards for school meals. As a result, those children who are not eligible for free meals, and whose parents are unable to afford to pay for a school meal each day, are unable to eat as healthily as their peers.

“Poverty among working families is a significant problem in this country: currently, sixty per cent of children living in poverty have at least one parent in work. The planned extension of eligibility would have lifted 50,000 such children out of poverty.”

Free school meals for all children under 16 was one of FPH’s 12 recommendations for better public health in its manifesto in January this year.

For further information, please contact Suvi Kingsley, FPH Press Officer, on 020 7935 3115 / 07909 780022 or

Written: 22/06/2010 , last modified: 03/02/2011