School Food Plan Alliance
School Food Plan Alliance urges Tory rethink on scrapping UIFSM
24/05/2017 - 09:56
The School Food Plan Alliance, a collaboration of over 20 organisations supporting schools to improve their school meals, is urging the Conservative Party not to abolish Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM) if it wins the General Election on June 8th.

Instead, they want the party to recommit to supporting the School Food Plan and the recent Childhood Obesity Plan.

Linda Cregan and Jeanette Orrey, co-chairs of the Alliance, say they see no sense in the policy U-turn.

Cregan said: “We all understand Government budgets come under regular review and difficult decisions need to be made, but it is only three years since the Government invested more than £150m into the set up and launch of the UIFSM policy and, as yet, no review or evaluation of the policy has been carried out”.

Orrey added: “In 2014, following a great deal of research, the government launched the School Food Plan which contained 17 actions designed ‘collectively’ to make the school dining experience more in tune with customer needs and to benefit millions of families across England.

“The cross party undertaking to wholly embrace all of the School Food Plan recommendations was warmly received by everyone who has an interest in the welfare of our nation’s children and the provision of UIFSM was at the heart of the plan.

“Its removal would take away the cornerstone of the plan and it will be of great concern to many that this policy could be axed before it has really got started”.

Dr Michael Nelson of Public Health Nutrition Research said: “When the impact of UIFSM was measured in 2009-11, infants in the intervention schools showed academic progress up to two months ahead of children in the control schools.

“More astonishing, the benefits of universal free school meals for Infants had a positive impact on pupils in Years 3-6: attainment amongst the junior pupils in the intervention schools was higher than in the control schools, even though they had not received free school meals.

“The nutritional benefits of universal free school meals are beyond question. Equally important are the positive impacts on children’s behaviour and attainment.

“UIFSM provides the effective means of improving academic outcomes for pupils in schools. On what possible basis would the Conservative party ignore all the evidence and throw away the many benefits?"