If you’ve got a child at primary school, you probably know that all young children are eligible for a free hot lunch from the school’s canteen. Kids aged between four and seven can get the meal and if you’re on a tight budget, it probably really helps you to manage the bills.
However, this free lunch for all kids of a certain age could be set to end, as a recent report claims that the Government is due to axe the hot meal programme. The move is expected to be announced in November, as one of a whole raft of spending changes.
What could change?
The plan to bring all children a free school lunch was only brought in in 2014, under the last government. It meant that any child aged between four and seven would be eligible for a hot school meal, regardless of how much their parents earned. Previously, it was only available to children whose parents were on income-related benefits. At the time, it was thought that the move could save parents as much as £400 a year.
The new report says that the Government is considering scrapping the programme. The Chancellor is due to announce a host of financial changes in his spending review on 25th November, and it’s thought that the removal of the free lunch for all children will be included in this.
TV celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has already spoken out against the proposed cut of the free lunch service, saying that hot meals were important for school children’s academic performance and a “major step forward for children’s health”. He also said that packed lunches made by parents often weren’t up to nutritional standards.
Even if the Government does remove access to a free school meal from all school children, it’s thought that it won’t affect the children of disadvantaged parents – they’ll still be entitled to a hot lunch. However, it’s unclear yet whether this would mean that parents on a low income would still be able to get a free lunch for their children, or if it would just be for children with parents on benefits.
We’ll have to wait until November to see if the free hot school lunches for kids will really be removed. If you’re already struggling with the cost of meals for your children while they’re at school, you might want to revisit your household budget and look at the amount you’ve allocated to spend on food. You might be able to save money by making all of the school lunches for your kids for a week and then just sticking them in the fridge or freezer if needed – just remember to defrost them the night before. You could find some cheap meals ideas for school lunches on Netmums or the BBC.