School meals and school milk
School meals and school milk

The following Local Government guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • School meals and school milk
  • Food and drink provided to pupils in schools in England
  • Nutritional requirements for school food in England
  • Free school meals and free school milk in England
  • Food and drink provided to pupils in schools in Wales
  • Free school breakfasts at maintained primary schools in Wales

As with many aspects of education law, the law on school meals is now different in England from that in Wales.

Food and drink provided to pupils in schools in England

Local authorities in England may provide milk, meals and other refreshments to registered pupils and others being educated at maintained schools and to children receiving ‘relevant Early Years education’. This power extends to the provision of lunches at academies, free schools and at independent schools. This catering may be provided either on school premises or elsewhere where education is being provided and the local authorities must provide at maintained schools facilities for the consumption of food and drink brought to school by pupils. Catering in academy schools and at free schools is not regulated by statute, but these schools’ funding agreement with the Department for Education (DfE) or Education Funding Agency (EFA) may well contain similar obligations.

The power to provide school lunches becomes a duty, either if that service is requested by a person entitled to free school meals or if it is ‘not unreasonable’ for that service to be provided.

Nutritional requirements for school food in England

Routine daytime food and drinks provided in all state-funded schools in England are expected to meet the nutritional and other standards set out in the Requirements for School Food Regulations