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Govt says 85% of infants now get FSM

19/12/2014 Kelly
An extra 1.3 million pupils and 85 per cent of infant children in England are now eating a free school lunch, according to the government.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said this means families can save up to £400 per child a year on the cost of a packed lunch.

The policy to offer a free school meal (FSM) to all infants in primary school was rolled out in England in September 2014.

Some 20 per cent of children are obese when they leave primary schools, and a poor diet can lead to a range of health problems.

Eating habits developed in early childhood often stay with people into later life, which is why the government is making an effort to address the problem at an early age.

Many people believe packed lunches are healthier options - but just one per cent of packed lunches meet the nutritional standards that currently apply to school food.

Earlier this year, the government announced it would offer free school meals to all pupils in reception year, year one and year two in state-funded schools in England from September 2014.

Funding of £419 million will be provided  in the 2014 to 2015 financial year, rising to £590 million in the 2015 to 2016 financial year.

Some £150 million has also been made available to schools this year to help them improve catering facilities so they can provide FSM. 

Concerns have been raised that some parents have failed to register for their children to receive FSM, meaning they are losing out on funding. However, in an interview with BBC News, Mr Clegg denied there were problems with registering. 

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT), said: "NAHT is talking to the minister of state for schools about his steps to ensure that there is no accidental reduction in the numbers of families signing up for the pupil premium, now that free meals are granted automatically."

Posted by Alan DouglasADNFCR-2164-ID-801766870-ADNFCR
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