Campaigners have urged the Government to restart its free fruit and vegetables for schools scheme, which was suspended at the end of March when schools closed due to Coronavirus.
However, as some schools have reopened in limited ways campaigners and parents have called for the schemes reintroduction, especially as research suggests that children from the poorest backgrounds, such as those who qualify for free school meals, struggle to eat enough fresh produce.
According to The Guardian, ‘Government documents show the scheme was worth up to £179m between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2020, but a new contract to run between August 2020 and August 2022 is only worth up to £60m.’
In response to a parliamentary question last month, minister for children Vicky Ford said the government could not confirm whether the scheme would return from the autumn term. “At present it is not known how events may develop and so we are not yet in a position to confirm whether or not the school fruit and vegetable scheme will operate in the autumn term. These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep parliament updated accordingly,” she said.
Parent and campaigned Hannah Cameron McKenna commented, “For many children, this scheme plays a vital part in how much fresh fruit and vegetables they eat, and without it their nutrition and health will be negatively impacted. The suspension of this scheme hits the most disadvantaged children the hardest. The government is failing these children.”
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