Skip navigation |

School Food Plan

Information about the recommendations of the national School Food Plan and what they mean for your school meals service

The government’s review of school meals in England was published in July 2013, led by restaurateurs Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent, and supported by an expert panel including us here at the Children's Food Trust. Read the full plan at

universal infant free school meals make school meals count promo

Key decisions coming out of the School Food Plan include:

  • Free school meals for infants: All children in Reception, Year 1 and 2 pupils will get free school meals from September 2014. We’ve partnered up with LACA (Lead Association for Catering in Education) to run an advice service supporting infant and primary schools to get ready. Click here for more information.
  • Make school meals count: More children should be eating school meals. It’s vital for their health and ability to learn and for the financial viability of catering services. Make school meals count is a massively subsidised support programme for local authorities and schools to help make this happen. Make school meals count is for local authorities, junior and secondary schools, academies, free schools, PRUs and schools for pupils with special educational needs in the South East, South West and East of England to increase school meal take up. Click here for more information.
  • Breakfast clubs: £3m is being made available to ensure healthy breakfasts are available for thousands of children who arrive at school hungry.
  • Practical cooking will become compulsory for every pupil to Key Stage 3 next year. Make sure you’re ready to go with advice and resources
  • Simplified school food standards the plan recommends a consultation on and pilot of updated school food standards . Here's the latest on progress. As long as it's agreed that updated standards are practical and work for children's nutrition, government has pledged that these would apply to all schools
  • Headteachers are being encouraged to take a lead on food at their schools - the plan outlines the importance of helping them to do this. Our children’s food advisers are experts in developing tailored improvement plans for individual schools – do get in touch. Or you can download our special edition of Cook for Success for more inspiration
  • Flagships: two London boroughs are to help prove that better school food can have a significant impact on children’s health and attainment. Every school in each area will receive co-ordinated support from expert organisations, funded jointly by the Department for Education and the Mayor of London. Here's how things are getting on
  • Award schemes for school meals - including
    our Children’s Food Trust Award - are mentioned as one way to build the reputation and takeup of your school food. Get involved and join our excellence scheme
  • Training and development: the plan is supporting more structured training and qualifications for school cooks. Read about progress so far
  • School meals brand: the plan aims to improve the image of school food with the help of celebrity chefs and national food businesses - to help you encourage more families to give school food a try
  • If you run school meals in a very small school, the plan's testing models to help you offer good food which families can afford and which you can sustain. Read more on progress so far or get in touch if you're a small school with concerns
  • Monitoring: Ofsted will guide inspectors to consider the behaviour and culture in school dining rooms and to look at how schools promote healthy lifestyles. Progress on take up of school meals, the number of schools meeting standards, morale of the workforce, the number of schools with food awards and children's cooking skills will also be monitored by the Department for Education

Read the government's press release about the plan.

Read our response to the plan.

Related Information