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Universal Free School Meals
From September 2014 all pupils in reception, year 1 and year 2 in state-funded schools in England are offered a free school meal (FSM). One year on from its launch, 95% of parents of the children taking up the offer are recognising the benefits for their child. Almost one quarter (23%) of parents with children eating a free infant meal say the main benefit to their child is the greater variety of food they will now eat. The same proportion (23%) say they most value their child eating a proper meal at lunchtime, whilst almost one fifth (19%) say their child has enjoyed trying new foods. The opportunity to eat together and socialise with friends was identified as the most important aspect by 15% of parents. Parents are seeing the positive impact school meals can have on children’s eating habits, and the value of eating a ‘proper meal’ with friends at lunchtime.