The Food Ethics Council has joined the Children’s Food Campaign and others to “Say Yes to School Food For All”, calling for universal free school meals from nursery to sixth form by 2030.
The new campaign highlights the breadth of public support in the UK for universal school food provision thanks to an interactive map launched on International School Meals Day, Thursday 9 March. A short film set at a local London school has also been released as part of the campaign as members of the public are invited to join in and add their name to the map.
We’re backing this campaign, coordinated by the Children’s Food Campaign and supported by National Food Strategy author Henry Dimbleby and a number of organisations such as trade unions, charities, local authorities and more. The diverse and rapidly growing support for the idea of universal school meals across the UK will be evidenced by the list of names and organisations on the map, which will be delivered to Government later this year. Anyone can add their name, including individuals, organisations, schools, local councils, charities, businesses or parliamentarians across the political spectrum.
Our Council member Professor Liz Dowler, Emeritus Professor of Food and Social Policy at the University of Warwick, says:
“We Say Yes please to universal free school meals for all, right across the UK. This is an amazing opportunity to bring dignity to families struggling on low incomes, help turn the tide on childhood obesity, normalise good food and bring everyone in school together around healthy, sustainable food.”
Currently universal school meal provision is only available to children up to age 7 and for children in families on universal credit from year 3. However the scheme is failing to reach more than 800,000 children living in poverty due to the eligibility threshold being too low, and hundreds of thousands of students are turning up to school hungry or with empty lunch boxes. The campaign argues that children should not be means tested in the middle of the school day and that lunch and healthy food provision should be seen as an intrinsic part of the education system. Healthy, nutritious food is critical for children’s concentration and learning at school. The campaign film draws a comparison with the provision of school chairs, desks and bathrooms, and imagines a day where these were also means-tested.
For more information about the campaign, head to: https://www.sustainweb.org/school-food-for-all/