Evaluation of UIFSM Shows ‘Positive Impacts’

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Tim Blowers: Study is incredibly encouraging

The first assessment of Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM) has highlighted a number of benefits, according to Tim Blowers, chair of the Lead Association for Catering in Education (LACA).

These include:

• School leaders see profile of healthy eating raised in schools

• Over a third of teachers see improvement in concentration and attainment as direct result of UIFSM

• 30% of school leaders see improvements in overall health of infant pupils since UIFSM introduced

• Schools with better Ofsted ratings have higher numbers of pupils eating school meals

• 98.4% of packed lunches don’t meet nutritional standards

Researched by the Education Policy Institute and funded by LACA, the report into UIFSM policy is a ‘clear indication that school meals remain a key tool in the fight against childhood obesity and bring a range of benefits for children, schools and families’, says Blowers.

It also shows:

• Take-up of free school meals has increased rapidly since introduction of UIFSM

• Many parents report that UIFSM has meant that their child is more likely to try new foods and to eat fruit and vegetables

• Over half of teachers surveyed felt that the policy improved the health of the most disadvantaged children in school, those eligible for free school meals

• The study also finds that the time and cost saving to parents from the introduction of UIFSM is equal to 32 hours and £390 a year on average

• School and catering staff on the ground noted that for many children, lunch is their only hot meal of the day.

Blowers added: “This study highlights the range of positive impacts stemming from a healthy free school meal and it is incredibly encouraging to see children, parents and teachers benefiting from this policy.

“We know that only 1.6% of packed lunches meet the same nutritional standards as school food, if the Government is serious about improving childhood nutrition, school meals are key to achieving this.

“This new research also highlights that there are best practice lessons to be learned from schools who have implemented UIFSM to the greatest success.

“We call on the Government to roll out this policy to pupils in Key Stage 2 and ensure that all children in primary school are given the best chance of succeeding in school and of becoming healthy adults.’

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