UK

Jamie Oliver Slams Theresa May’s Plans To Scrap Free Meals For Infants

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19/05/2017 12:48 BST | Updated 20/05/2017 11:40 BST

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has reacted with fury to the news that Theresa May plans to scrap free school meals for infant pupils if she wins the election.

At present, the government subsidises each school lunch to a cost of £2.30, so removing the free lunches means working families will have to find around £480 extra per child a year, though the Conservative manifesto does state means-tested families will continue to get free school meals. 

The manifesto claims some of the money saved by the move will be used to provide free breakfasts for primary-age children.

The healthy food campaigner said: “We’ve already seen the Childhood Obesity Strategy ripped to shreds, now Theresa May and her government have decided to remove free school lunches from millions of primary children. 

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Jamie Oliver has branded Theresa May's plans to scrap free school meals for infants a 'disgrace' 

“This is a disgrace. It’s a fact that children perform better after eating a decent lunch.

“This move shows a complete lack of understanding of all the data that’s been shared and puts our future generations at huge risk, as well as further undermining our teachers who benefit from well-fed kids.”

But the TV chef’s view was not shared at all by a HuffPostUK-Edelman focus group of lifelong Labour voters, all of whom backed May’s plans to stop the better-off from getting free school meals.

Michelle, a teacher and single mum struggling to make ends meet, told us: “I know people who earn over £100,000 and their children get free school meals. [You think] ‘What?’

“When my child was at primary school, I had to struggle to pay for the dinner money. It doesn’t make sense. It should be means tested.”

Of the plan to offer breakfasts to primary-age children, Oliver blogged: “The logic behind this is extremely worrying. Why scrap a policy that gives every child access to a free school lunch and replace it with a policy that only gives breakfast to some? It doesn’t add up.” 

Last year Oliver, a father-of-five slammed May’s Childhood Obesity Plan, accusing her of coming up with “the same old bull that hasn’t worked for 20 years.”

PA Wire/PA Images
Theresa May with eight-year-old Akaal Singh at Nishkam Primary School in Birmingham 

He told the Radio Times: “Everything about the childhood obesity strategy that’s just come out is a complete stinking herring. It’s a terrible job Theresa May’s done there – unforgivable.

“She’s completely let down every child in Britain, let parents down, everyone’s been let down.”

Oliver led a failed campaign to ban unhealthy sweets from supermarket checkouts and limit junk food adverts, but has been a powerful advocate of healthy eating. The 41-year-old was awarded an MBE for services to the hospitality industry in 2003.