Last week, Nursery World reported that thousands of people had signed petitions calling on the Government to continue with the scheme which sees all children aged four to seven provided with a free school dinner.
It follows reports that the Liberal Democrat flagship policy could be axed in the Autumn Spending Review (25 November) amid claims the scheme’s funding is ‘eating into the core education budget’.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Cameron said, ‘We’re very proud of what we’ve done with free school meals. It was an excellent reform carried out in the last parliament.
‘We are now going to have a spending review where obviously we have to make sure that we are delivering on our spending promises.’
However, reports suggest that Prime Minister’s comments have alarmed officials at the Department for Education (DfE), who had allegedly drawn up plans to end universal free meals in an attempt to save money.
The DfE neither confirmed nor denied the plans, telling Nursery World that the scheme is no more at risk than any other policy.
A Government spokesperson said, ‘We believe that every child, regardless of their background, should have the same opportunities. That is at the heart of what we are doing with school food – no child should be hindered because they are not eating a nutritious meal at lunchtime.
‘We have provided significant financial support to schools to help them deliver Universal Infant Free School Meals. We have come a long way and the new School Food Standards mean pupils of all ages are eating good food that sows the seeds for healthy eating for life.’