Free School Meals and Healthy Start Scheme

Department for Education written question – answered on 20th September 2021.

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Photo of Rupa Huq Rupa Huq Labour, Ealing Central and Acton

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of expanding eligibility for (a) free school meals and (b) the Healthy Start scheme.

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

We think it is important that free school meal support is targeted at those that need it most. Free school meals (FSM) are an integral part of our provision for families on low incomes and our wider actions to promote social mobility.

Under the benefits-related criteria, there are currently around 1.7 million pupils eligible for and claiming a free school meal. An additional 1.3 million infants receive a free meal under the Universal Infant FSM policy.

Eligibility for the Department of Health and Social Care Healthy Start scheme is kept under continuous review and aligns closely with other passported benefits across government. There are no current plans to change eligibility for the scheme with regard to the earnings threshold or the qualifying age range.

The government will consider the recommendations in Henry Dimbleby’s independent review when developing the forthcoming Food Strategy White Paper.

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