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Youth Select Committee calls for healthier school meals

12th Mar 2024 - 07:00
Youth Select Committee calls for healthier school meals
The Youth Select Committee has published a report titled ‘The Impact of the cost of living crisis on young people’ that calls for free school meals to be expanded and improved.

The report’s first chapter is all about food, and it goes on to discuss education, employment and mental health, amongst other things.

A spokesperson for the Youth Select Committee wrote in the report: “Access to nutritious food has decreased, exacerbating health disparities among young people and their families, particularly those with limited financial resources.

“The soaring cost of healthier food options, which are often twice as expensive per calorie compared with unhealthier alternatives, forces young people and their families to make unhealthy choices and can result in long-term health consequences.”

The Child Poverty Action Group estimate that one in three (900,000) children living in poverty in England are ineligible for a free school meal due to the ‘draconian eligibility criteria’. 

The committee recommends that the eligibility criteria for free school meals are extended to ensure all of the 900,000 children in poverty who are currently missing out can access this nutritional safety net. This could be done immediately by the Government, and would be a welcome first step towards investing in great school food for all young people, no matter where they grow up.

The Youth Select Committee is also calling for:

  • School food standards should be updated to reflect the latest research on food and health
  • The Government should provide an update on progress with its 2020 'Tackling Obesity' policy paper
  • Junk food advertising restrictions should be fully implemented without delay

Access the full report here.

Written by
Edward Waddell