Michael Gove backs extended access to Free School Meals

Michael Gove MP

Former Levelling Up and Education Secretary Michael Gove MP has given his support to The Food Foundation’s campaign to extend access to Free School Meals. 

Speaking today at a Food for the Future fringe event hosted by the Onward think tank at the annual Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, Mr Gove said: "Of all the public health interventions we could make, one of the most timely, effective and targeted would be extending access to Free School Meals to those in receipt of Universal Credit. 

"If our country is to succeed we need to make sure we have a healthy population. It’s not fair to expect a teenager or someone younger to fend for themselves. 

"If children don’t have access to healthy food their attention wanders. Low blood sugar or a poor diet means that they’re not able to get the most from good teaching or extracurricular activities. 

"In an ideal world I think we should have universal Free School Meals for all children in primary school, that’s my ideal, but resources are tight.

"What we can do is extend access to free school meals for every child in a family in receipt of Universal Credit."

Mr Gove said implementation of such a scheme would cost £500 million and added: "When I was Levelling Up Secretary one of the things that was most brought home to me was that the foundation of economic revival is good public health. There’s an iron clad link between poor public health and poor economic outcomes."

Mr Gove was speaking ahead of next week’s launch of the Feed the Future campaign being led by a coalition of leading charities, think tanks, professional bodies and unions including The Food Foundation and the National Education Union, which represents more than 500,000 teachers. 

Anna Taylor, Executive Director of The Food Foundation, said: "We are delighted that Michael Gove has stated his support for this campaign.

"As a former Education Secretary he knows only too well the lifelong disadvantage suffered by children who do not receive a decent diet. It causes obesity and lifelong poor health, reduces their capacity to learn and limits their opportunities in the job market.

"We hope other senior politicians will follow his lead and back the Feed the Future campaign which is making this call for children from families on Universal Credit to get free school meals as a first step towards access to better nutrition for all children."

Notes to Editors

For media information contact Lois Rogers lois.rogers@foodfoundation.org.uk or call 07770 350822.

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