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The government supports the provision of nutritious food in schools. This ensures pupils are well nourished, develop healthy eating habits and can concentrate and learn. Under the benefits-based criteria, around 1.3 million of the most disadvantaged children are eligible for and are claiming free school meals. This saves each family around £400 per year. Benefits-based free meals were extended to disadvantaged further education students in September 2014. This benefitted 82,117 students in the 2017 to 2018 academic year. A further 1.4 million infants receive a free nutritious meal under the Universal Infant Free School Meals scheme, introduced in September 2014.
We are investing up to £26 million to the National Schools Breakfast Programme. This money will kick-start or improve breakfast clubs in over 1,700 schools and target the most disadvantaged areas of the country, including Opportunity Areas. This has been extended by a further year until March 2021 with up to an additional £11.8 million of funding, this investment will help schools kick-start up to a further 650 breakfast clubs.
In 2019 we invested £9 million to set up local Holiday Activity and Food coordinators in 11 local authority areas. Before Christmas we launched a grant fund for another £9 million for 2020. With this money we will be able to support even more disadvantaged children, building on the learning from 2019 to ensure that the programme supports the development of high-quality provision for children and provides more support for parents and families.