Free School Meals

Department for Education written question – answered at on 22 November 2023.

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Photo of Alan Campbell Alan Campbell Shadow Chief Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether her Department has made an assessment of the potential impact of extending the eligibility for free school meals on (a) the economy, (b) public health and (c) educational attainment.

Photo of Alan Campbell Alan Campbell Shadow Chief Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether her Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of extending universal free school meals across England.

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds Minister of State (Education)

The provision of Free School Meals (FSM) to pupils from households who are on low income or out of work is important to the government. Over two million pupils are currently eligible for benefits based FSM. Close to 1.3 million additional infants receive free and nutritious meals under the Universal Infant Free School Meals policy.

The department does not have plans to change the current eligibility conditions for FSM, nor any plans to extend universal provision, but will continue to keep eligibility under review to ensure that these meals are supporting those who need them most. The department has set a threshold which enables more pupils to benefit, whilst remaining affordable and deliverable for the schools.

The department continues to work with other government departments to monitor the consequences of the rising cost of living and the impact on families.

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