New figures, published today by the School Food Trust and Local Authority Caterers Association show that an average of 44.1% of children in primary schools and 37.6% of pupils in secondary school opted for school meals in the 2010 to 2011 academic year, up from 41.4% and 35.8% respectively in the previous year.
It means that:
- around 173,000 more children had healthy school meals last year, compared with around 100,000 extra children in 2009 to 2010
- more than three million children now eat a school meal every day
- the equivalent of almost 590 million healthy school lunches were served up last year
- the number of children taking both paid-for and free school meals in the 2010 to 2011 academic year increased
- figures in primary schools have now notched up a rise of almost 5 percentage points over just 3 years
Children’s Minister Sarah Teather said:
Healthy eating has a direct impact on behaviour, concentration and ability to learn in schools so these are hugely encouraging figures - the fastest year-on-year rise in take up since junk food was banned and tough nutritional standards were introduced.
It’s a tribute to caterers’ hard work that tens of thousands of parents and children are voting with their feet by opting to eat lunch at schools, particularly the most deprived.
It is vital that we help schools, children and parents develop healthier attitudes to nutritious food from a young age. We continue to support the School Food Trust and to help set it up as a permanent independent, not-for-profit social enterprise to carry on its outstanding work driving up the quality of school meals.
The 2010 to 2011 take up figures are published today by the School Food Trust and Local Authority Caterers Association in its annual survey.
The Government announced last year that the School Food Trust was to become an independent, not-for-profit community interest company - although it will still be funded by the government for specific projects. Education Secretary Michael Gove has written to the Trust setting out its remit for 2011 to 2012 while it makes the transition