Free School Meals

(asked on 21st December 2022) - View Source

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask His Majesty's Government how many schools in England have a voucher system in operation that can be used to replace free school meals in the event of unexpected school closure.

Answered by
Baroness Barran Portrait
Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
This question was answered on 9th January 2023

Schools have a duty to provide Free School Meals (FSM) for registered pupils, either on school premises or at any other place where education is being provided. If the school is closed due to extreme weather and/or extenuating circumstances, and education is not being provided for pupils elsewhere, then the school would not be expected to provide free school meals.

Where meals are provided, our guidance advises schools to work with their school catering team or food provider to provide good quality lunch parcels. Where this is not practicable, schools may make local arrangements to supply vouchers.

The Department does not keep records of which schools make meal or voucher provision during periods of closure, nor the number of pupils supported under such arrangements.

Around 1.9 million pupils are claiming FSM. Together with a further 1.25 million infants supported through UIFSM policy, over one third of school children are now provided with a free meal, at a cost of over £1 billion a year. The department currently has generous protections in place, ensuring that eligible pupils keep their FSM entitlement even if their household circumstances improve.

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