It is curious that the benefits of Osun Free School Feeding Programme, O’Meal, is being appreciated and found fit for adoption in strange quarters, England.
Since September, all pupils at infant schools in England have been benefiting from a free meals scheme to encourage full attention in class, says a government official.
“A healthy hot meal gives children the ability to concentrate and do well in the classroom” All pupils at infant schools in England have been getting free school lunches from September, Lib Dem leader and Deputy PM Nick Clegg has announced. The change – for children in reception, year one and year two – will save parents about £400 a year per child.
Targeting infants would ensure “every child gets the chance in life they deserve”, teach healthy eating habits and boost attainment, Mr Clegg said. Money is being provided for Wales, Scotland and N Ireland to do likewise.
Supporters argued that children with a regular healthy meal were more likely to be able to concentrate, get better academic results and were less likely to be obese. It’s a public health approach, covering everyone for the long-term benefit.
A similar project saw free fruit being given to the infant years, with its advocates saying that the gains from this measure would be felt decades in the future. Now Nick Clegg’s announcement will see free meals offered as the recipe for better results. It concluded that packed lunches were nearly always less nutritious than a cooked meal, and that giving all children free lunches would raise academic standards.
“We will start with infant school pupils because teaching healthy habits young, and boosting attainment early, will bring the biggest benefits. “Universal free school meals will help give every child the chance in life that they deserve, building a stronger economy and fairer society.” Ministers are determined to make a series of gestures designed to alleviate the squeeze many families are feeling”
“The news will no doubt be welcomed by disadvantaged students and their parents at a time when family budgets are being stretched to the limit,” said Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges.
Asked if it was fair to provide free schools lunches for the children of all irrespective of wealth, Mr Clegg said: “We believe that where we can find the money, even in these difficult times, we need to really invest that money in giving all children regardless of their family background the very best possible start in life.”