Free school meals would benefit 500 Ivybridge children says Labour candidate

By Toby Leigh in Politics

A candidate for May’s county council elections has got behind his party’s pledge to provide free school meals for all primary pupils.

Tony Rea from Ivybridge said he fully supports the announcement by Labour, and claims around 500 primary pupils in the town alone would benefit.

Labour says 29,019 children across Devon would receive free meals under its proposals. The party has said it will fund the policy by introducing VAT on private school fees, and it "will benefit the educational attainment and health of all children, while ending a subsidy to the privileged few".

Labour cites research by the National Centre for Social Research and the Institute for Fiscal Studies showing universal access to free school meals improves educational attainment, enabling primary school pupils to advance by around two months on average. It also says school meals are a healthier option than packed lunches, containing more fruit and vegetables on average.

Labour’s Devon County Council candidate for the Ivybridge division Tony Rea said: “The Government’s cuts to the school budget in Devon are making school meals worse and limiting the number of children that can be fed. This decision affects the educational attainment and health of pupils.

“Introducing universal free school meals will mean that around 500 additional Ivybridge primary school children could benefit from free school meals every day of the week.

“While the Conservatives offer tax giveaways to their billionaire friends, they are cutting the schools budget and threatening the health and futures of all our children by denying children the basic right of a healthy lunch at school. By investing in our education system and providing free school meals for every primary school child, we will remove the stigma attached to free school meals, and improve health and attainment for all children."

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