Universal Free School Meals KS1

ALL pupils in Key Stage 1 (Reception, Year 1 and Year 2) in state funded schools in England, are entitled to receive a FREE school lunch through the Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM) policy.

The independent School Food Plan, published by the Department for Education in July 2013, recommended this policy based on the findings of the free school meals pilots held between 2009 and 2011. The pilots showed that universal free school meals can have significant benefits both for individual children and for the broader life of the school. Pupils in the pilot areas were found to eat more healthily and perform better academically. Schools also reported improved behaviour and atmosphere, as a result of all pupils eating together every day.


  • What type of meal will my child receive?

At St Francis we offer both a meat and vegetarian based hot meal, as well as a drink and dessert. All meals should meet the school food standards, which will ensure your child will be offered fresh fruit and vegetables, healthier drinks at lunchtime, and get the essential nutrients they need.

  •  How will this benefit my child?

Your child will receive a healthy balanced meal at lunch that provides a high amount of minerals and nutrients. Studies have shown that schools involved in a pilot study for universal free school meals, have pupils that are 2 to 3 months ahead academically than those who don’t. Your child will be exposed to a bigger variety of foods and it may help with social skills progression and encourage healthy habits for life.

  • How will this benefit me?

You will save time instead of making up a packed lunch and also an estimated £420 per year per child.

  • I have a child in Key Stage 2, I will still need to make a packed lunch?

Consider using the money you will save not making packed lunches for your child in reception / key stage one on school meals for your other children. Think about how much money you spend on packed lunches as it may be similar to what you would spend on a school meal. Consider the benefits of your child receiving a school meal as above.​

  • Can my child still have a packed lunch?

It's your prerogative, but the Government hopes you will give school meals a go. It’s likely children will want to eat school lunch because many of their friends will also be eating a school lunch.

  • Aren't packed meals healthier than school meals?

All school meals are expected to meet the government’s food standards that came in 2006. The meal is therefore healthy and balanced in terms of minerals, vitamins and other nutrients and high sugar, high fat foods are restricted. It is extremely hard to get a packed lunch to meet such high standards. Recent studies have shown only 1% of packed lunches actually meet these standards and that children who have packed lunches generally consume higher amounts of fat, salt and sugar.

  • What if my child is a fussy eater?

Encouraging your child to have a school meal will help your child be exposed to new foods and because the other pupils are having the same food, this may also encourage your child to try new foods. There will be opportunities for parents and children to attend 'taster sessions' during the year to try new foods and new menu items. Menus are available to view online and some parents might like to give their child the chance to try it at home first.

  • My child has special dietary requirements so a school meal is not suitable?

Make the school office aware of what it is your child requires or should be avoiding. The school's catering manager will alter the menu specific to your child’s needs.

For more information on UIFSM visit the School Food Plan website.