5 January 2024
School Food

All children should be able to access healthy food at school every day. With the help of good nutrition, pupils will be ready to learn and have the chance to achieve their full potential. It will hopefully encourage healthy and stable eating habits for life.

The Requirements for School Food Regulations 2014 set out guidance on how schools should provide children with healthy food and drink options to get the necessary energy and nutrition throughout the school day, including that meat or poultry must be offered on three or more days each week, and that milk must be available for drinking every day. Schools must also do all they can to make free water visible and easily available. The Government continues to promote compliance with the School Food Standards and will keep this under review.

In 2022, the Levelling Up White Paper outlined plans to strengthen adherence by: trialling coordination with the Foods Standards Agency; providing funding of up to £200,000 for a pilot Governor Training Scheme; and encouraging schools to set out their whole school approach to food in a statement on their website. The Government is encouraging schools to respond to feedback from parents about their school meals provision and to act reasonably to ensure the needs and beliefs of their school community are being met. 

I welcome the Government’s recognition of the benefits of providing healthy meals to students and providing free meals to those that need them. As I understand it, local authorities are responsible for providing school meals which are funded centrally, rather than through a specific grant. Therefore, it is up to local authorities to determine the amount allocated for each school meal, based on the circumstances in their area. However, the Government is committed to ensuring that all schools have the necessary funds to provide help for those students that require it. The Government spends over £1 billion each year on free school meals, including through the Holiday Activities and Food programme and school breakfast clubs.