Universal Infant Free School Meals - from September 2014

Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM) was brought in by the government from September 2014.  The government decided that from this date, all pupils in Foundation 2, Year 1 and Year 2 should be able to have a free school meal at lunchtime.  This offer does not depend on your household income or whether you receive any benefits – every child in these year groups is eligible to take up the offer.

The government decided to fund free school meals for all pupils in this age group, following the Department for Education’s recent review of school food.  In a trial, it was found that pupils who ate a high quality school meal achieved better academically than those who did not.  They were also more likely to eat healthier foods such as vegetables at lunchtime instead of less healthy foods such as crisps.  Having school meals helps children develop the confidence to make appropriate menu choices and tastes for different foods.  The government also say that the introduction of UIFSM in the pilot areas found that:
• Pupils were found to be on average two months ahead of their peers elsewhere
• Around 2% more children reached target levels in maths and English at Key Stage 1
• Academic improvements were most marked among children from less affluent families
• There was a 23% increase in the number of children eating vegetables at lunch and an 18% drop in those eating crips
• For some pupils, health benefits were associated with having a balanced meal; benefits included more energy, concentration and alertness, and improved complexion
• In the pilot areas, there was a ‘levelling effect’, as the scheme ensured equal access to a healthy and good quality meal regardless of socio-economic differences between pupils.

Parents in the trial appreciated saving the cost of school meals (currently £2.20 per child per day at Liscard Primary – that’s £418 per child per year!) and not having to spend time preparing packed lunches – saving them approximately 190 hours per year!