Jamie Oliver urges UK to use sugar tax to fund free school meals

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has called on the state to use the UK’s beverage tax to fund an additional 800,000 free school meals in the UK, as inflation fuels food poverty.

Oliver, guest editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday, said he “prioritizes the gap between kids who get free school lunches and the working poor. . . That’s 800,000 children who we believe are vulnerable.”

Oliver has previously campaigned on obesity and the quality of children’s food, advocating a tax introduced in 2018 on soft drinks with a sugar content above the regulatory threshold. The levy raised £334 million in the 2021-22 financial year.

He now supports the Feed for Future campaign led by the Food Foundation charity, which is looking to expand free school meals to support needy families in need. cost of living increases.

Oliver told the BBC: “If you look at the proceeds from the beverage tax, it’s not far from what is needed. He said “chaos comes” from families worrying about how to feed themselves and feeding their children as “best value for taxpayers’ money”.

Speaking on the programme, former prime minister Tony Blair, who has rolled out services including Sure Start centers for young children, supported Oliver’s call for an expansion of free meal delivery in school. “The evidence is even clearer than in my day. . . that investing in the early years is important,” he said.

Former prime minister George Osborne, who introduced a beverage tax before leaving government in 2016, told Oliver he would extend the tax on more products if he remained in office, adding that The government’s decision to delay the ban on junk food advertising is “very disappointing”.

Plans to limit unhealthy food ads before 9 p.m. on TV and online have been pushed back several times. The ban, originally slated to go into effect in April 2022, will now go into effect in October 2025, a delay that has greatly frustrated health campaigners.

“As a Conservative, Conservatives should not be afraid to rationally use government to improve people’s health because, by the way, it is,” Osborne said. also reduces future reliance on public services,” Osborne said.

Oliver’s appeal comes after Westminster council in London said it would provide free school meals to all children at state-funded primary schools.

Speaking from Mary Magdalene School in the county, Oliver said: “I’m proud of what they’re doing here. And when you see it in action. . . You realize that’s not rocket science.”

The Food Foundation reported in October that around 4 million children living in UK households had felt food insecurity in the past month, a 50% increase since April. It has previously been found that people living in impoverished households are more likely to be obese.

Wales is in the process of rolling out free school meals for all primary school-age children, while Scotland has committed to doing so.

The Department for Education says it understands the pressures many households are under and is supporting more children and young people than ever before.

The department said: “More than a third of pupils in the UK are now receiving free school meals in educational institutions and we have just announced further investment in the national school breakfast programme, which will last program for another year with support up to £30 million.”

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