Universal Infant Free School Meals

Since September 2014, school meals have been free to all infant school children. We need to work hard to safeguard this policy and demonstrate to government the benefits of making school meals free.

Election 2017 - A troubling development

The election manifestos are out and whilst Labour and the Lib Dems are promising an extension to UIFSM to include all primary school children, the Conservatives are promising to scrap the policy. We wrote to the PM back in April outlining reasons to keep the policy and recommending that the government build on this commitment to children's health. We want to see:

  • auto-enrolment for pupil premium to ensure that help gets to the children who need it most
  • a review of Universal Infant Free School Meals funding formula to ensure that the policy is adequately and fairly funded
  • cross-government support for the Childhood Obesity Plan and the School Food Plan so that we can deliver and build on the actions outlined
  • school food standards made mandatory in all schools.


Sadly it appears Mrs May has ignored our submission so we'll be gathering with charity partners to boldly defend UIFSM.  More soon!

Universal Infant Free School Meals

Amongst the 16 School Food Plan actions was a recommendation; that school meals should be free to all primary school children. It was a wonderful moment when, in September 2013, we learned that this recommendation was to become the 17th action. SFM went on to contribute to an External Reference Group set up by Department for Education to advise on the policy. 

In September 2014, following an enormous mobilisation exercise, 98.5% of schools with infants offered a free hot school meal. Take-up of the free meal was over 85% and heads and parents agreed that the benefits to health and savings to the family budget were unequivocal.  That's why we jumped into action when, in September 2015, we heard rumours that the policy was in danger of being cut. With campaign partners we produced a series of letters to the Sunday Times from heads, health professionals and food poverty campaigners. This lively campaign was supported by over 40,000 people who signed a parliament petition

Thankfully the policy survived November's Spending Review but we'll need to remain vigilant, gather evidence and make a convincing case to ensure that UIFSM is here to stay.