‘Give our children free school meals’ – Sunderland and Washington MP

Sharon Hodgson MP

Sharon Hodgson MP

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A WEARSIDE MP is backing plans to make school lunch free for all primary school children.

The proposal is contained in a report, the School Food Plan, produced by the founders of the Leon chain of restaurants Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent, for the Department for Education.

Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson, who is also Labour’s Shadow Children’s Minister and chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on School Food, said: “I welcome this in-depth report and its recommendations.

“The health and education of our children is crucial, so I hope that the School Food Plan signals the start of a cross party agreement on the need to ensure as many pupils as possible have access to a nutritious and filling lunch at school.

“The report picks up and builds on where Labour left off in May 2010, particularly on the importance of school food standards applying in all schools.

“It’s a shame that Michael Gove has wasted three years before taking this issue seriously, but Labour will now work with the Government to ensure that the Plan is implemented. The report has attracted rare support across the floor of the House of Commons, with Education Secretary Michael Gove also giving the plan the thumbs-up.

Free meals for around three million children are unlikely to become a reality for some time, however, with the £900million a year price tag meaning the policy is unlikely to be implemented for at least another three years.

Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent said: “We understand that the considerable cost and the need to involve other departments make it a big ask.

“But we are pleased that the secretary of state agrees with us in principle, and we would urge schools and councils to consider funding universal free school meals themselves.”

The plan aims to improve the quality of school lunches and make them more attractive to both children and 
parents.