Foodservice wholesalers are urging the Prime Minister to honour an election pledge to retain the Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM) scheme.
According to the Federation of Wholesale Distributors’ chief executive James Bielby, the service has created jobs in distribution and helped school kitchens to operate profitably.
Introduced under the coalition Government, the scheme provides free meals to 1.6 million children but is now believed to be under threat within the present Conservative regime.
The FWD represents companies that have supplied 6.6 million extra items into schools over the past year. It estimates that, as well as the educational and nutritional benefits for children, up to 250 jobs would be lost by its members if UIFSM is scrapped.
Investment in extra delivery vehicles would be wiped out and schools would lose the economies of scale of larger shipments.
Bielby commented: “Members report an increase in demand for food from schools by up to 20% following the introduction of universal free school meals.
“They have invested in staff and equipment to meet the demands of the programme, and they are delivering a service which is helping children to eat and learn well. This is raising the quality of school meal provision, and helping parents save up to £15 a week.”
The FWD has written to the Department for Education to ask for clarification on the Government’s policy on UIFSM and to urge it not to reduce or end the scheme.
Tel: FWD (01323) 724952Published Date: October 20, 2015