Free school meals for ALL primary pupils

Tower Hamlets Council has launched free school meals for all its primary school pupils, going beyond the Government’s Universal Infant Free School Meals scheme that started this term and offers free lunches for pupils aged 5-7 years old.

At an estimated annual cost of £2.675million, the London borough now offers free meals to all its 25,271 primary school children. In doing so it becomes one of only four local authorities to adopt such a policy, the others also

all being in London – Southwark, Newham and Islington.

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, said: “We know

the importance of making sure every child has a hot and nutritious meal every day. Healthy children make better learners and the high performance of the schools in Tower Hamlets is testament to this.

“While news reports talk of free school meals causing a crisis in school kitchens around the country, here in Tower Hamlets we were already ahead of the curve. With the support of headteachers, our award-winning catering service has gone beyond the Government’s policy and expanded its operation to serve a free meal to every primary school pupil in the borough every day.”

Last year the council provided free school meals for all Reception and Year 1 pupils. After the success of this policy, it had expanded the scheme this academic year to include all primary school children. Every primary school pupil in the borough, including those at non council-run schools such as free schools and academies, are now entitled to a free school meal regardless of family income.

Myles Bremner, director of the School Food Plan, praised Tower Hamlets initiative, saying: “The educational and health benefits of children all being given free school meals are well documented and I applaud Tower Hamlets Council for taking the bold step of investing in this important area. I hope other councils will follow suit.”