More infants eating healthy lunches – new DfE data reveals
Benefits-based free school meals figures have risen from 86.9% in 2016 to 87.5% in 2017. Universal infant free school meals figures were 84.8% in 2016 and are now at 85.9% for 2017.
The number of children eligible for free school meals has continued to drop and is now at its lowest since figures were first reported in 2001. The percentage of pupils eligible for FSM who actually take a meal has also dropped from 82.9% in 2016 to 80.8% in 2017 for primary. The DfE attributes this to there being fewer parents than in previous years claiming the benefits.
Children's Food Trust CEO, Linda Cregan, said: "It is good news that more infants are having a healthy meal at lunchtime in schools, as indicated in the Department of Education figures today.
"Our free school meals system should be set up to ensure all eligible children are encouraged to claim their entitlement and the universal infant free school meals (UIFSM) scheme should be evaluated to measure the impact on children’s health and education."