Free school meals for infants under threat

The 'Universal Infant Free School Meals’ programme (UIFSM) is a scheme that launched in 2014 and is aimed at children in reception, year 1 and year 2. The UIFSM is estimated to save parents of four to seven year olds around £400 per year.

However, the project’s initial proposal was criticised by various education centres who denounced the financial costs involved in installing the necessary kitchen facilities to support the strategy. Nonetheless, after all the money and time invested in implementing the programme, it is understandable that teachers would prefer to keep the system in place.

Many campaigners are refuting the threat to scrap free school dinners, including healthy school-meal-pioneer Jamie Oliver and Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron. Farron maintains that removing the initiative is not only ‘damaging to children’ but ‘an insult to our schools’. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver agrees it would be a ‘disaster’ if the cuts were executed.

While the initiative has for the most part, been a success, the strategy is roughly calculated to rack up around £800m per year. As voiced by Jonathan Simons, Head of Education at Policy Exchange, maintaining the UIFSM programme is not merely questioning the necessity of issuing free lunches to all pupils (regardless of wealth) but also realistically considering the question of value for money.

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