The Conservative Government has dropped plans to axe the Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM) initiative which were originally included in its election manifesto.
The proposal restricted free lunches to infants from poorer homes, and free breakfasts for all primary school pupils would have been funded instead. The Conservatives claimed the plan would save £650m annually, with the breakfast replacement costing around £60m a year.
This latest development should be welcome news for catering equipment dealers, as since the scheme’s launch in 2014, the industry has been a beneficiary to the tune of £150m provided to local authorities to help them upgrade school kitchens to keep up with lunch demand.
The BBC website reports that schools minister Nick Gibb said the government would “retain the existing provision”, having listened “very carefully” to the views of parents.
Many schools were also unhappy about the move, arguing they had gone to great expense to adapt their facilities to provide hot lunches.
Gibb detailed: “Universal infant free school meals ensure children receive a nutritious meal during the day. It saves hardworking families hundreds of pounds a year and it boosts educational achievement, especially among children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.”