Tory plan to scrap free school lunches an ‘absolute betrayal’, says co-author of government meals initiative

Conservative party plans to scrap free school lunches have been condemned as an “absolute betrayal” by the man who co-authored the initiative.

Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of the Leon restaurant and food chain, is one of a number of celebrity chefs and high profile figures to speak out against the government’s proposals, which will see the scheme replaced with free breakfasts budgeted at a fraction of the cost.

Mr Dimbleby helped write the School Food Plan for the coalition government, which recommended the universal free school meals plan in a bid to improve childhood nutrition and social mobility within early years education.

Speaking to The Evening Standard, he said: “To axe infant free school meals now is an absolute betrayal, not only of our children, but of our headteachers, who have been misled.”

Schools have also wasted hundreds of millions of pounds as a result, the newspaper also revealed, after former education secretary Michael Gove wrote to all headteachers to encourage them to invest in new kitchens and upgrades in preparation for the new programme.

One London school said it had waste several thousand pounds and become locked into a catering contract after being encouraged to do so by Mr Gove’s assurances.

They pointed to a letter sent to schools by Mr Gove and former Schools Minister David Laws in 2014, which highlighted the health and academic benefits of universal free dinners and insisted the meals were “a serious and long-term policy commitment”.

Former deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who led the coalition initiative, has also criticised Theresa May for her “cruel and illogical decision” to take away the hot lunches, a move he said would hurt “thousands of Britain’s poorest children”.

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver said the Tory policy was “misguided”, and argued the Government’s proposed breakfast budget of 7p per child was “just bonkers”.

“Swapping from free lunch to a cheap, probably sugary,…

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