Extend free school meal provision to all primary school children

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The BDA is calling on the UK Government to extend free school meal provision to all primary school children. By ensuring universal access to nutritious meals, we can address health disparities, alleviate financial burdens on families, and shape a healthier, more equitable generation. This aligns with the BDA's vision of improving the health of the UK population and advancing the interests of our members.

What is the Expanding Free School Meals campaign?

This campaign aims to ensure that all primary school children across the UK have access to a high-quality, nutritious meal every day. We are calling on the UK Government and devolved administrations to take urgent action to implement universal free school meals, recognising the crucial role of quality nutrition in child development, health, and wellbeing.

Why is this needed?

Extending free school meals to all primary pupils can significantly improve children's diets, nutrition, and educational outcomes. Evidence shows that universal free school meals increases uptake of school meals, reduce stigma, and ease financial pressures on families. The benefits of this policy outweigh the costs, as demonstrated by successful examples in London. Economic analysis projects over £41 billion in benefits against under £24 billion in costs over 20 years in England.


Last year we supported the National Education Union’s (NEU) Free School Meals campaign.

What are we doing about it?

The BDA is actively engaging with policymakers, educators, and other stakeholders to build support for expanding free school meals. We are highlighting the evidence-based benefits of this policy, including improved health outcomes, reduced inequalities, and economic advantages. Our campaign calls for a commitment from all political parties to include universal free school meals in their manifestos for the upcoming general election.

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On 29 June 2023, Annette Mansell-Green, Director of Trade Union and Public Affairs at the BDA joined the Free School Meals for All coalition in handing in an open letter and petition to the Prime Minister, which we also signed.

How can you get involved?

As a member of the public, there are several ways you can support this campaign:

  • Write to your elected representative asking them to champion the expansion of free school meals to all primary pupils
  • Talk to friends and family about the importance of quality nutrition for primary school children
  • Follow the BDA on social media for updates on the campaign and more ways to get involved
  • Stay social! Share your support on social media using the hashtag #FreeSchoolMealsForAll

By working together, we can make a real difference in the lives of children across the UK. With your support, we can ensure that every primary school pupil has access to the nutritious meals they need to grow, learn, and thrive. Let's make universal free school meals a reality and give our children the best possible start in life.

Read more on our Free School Meals Campaign

Read the full campaign document