Journal Article

Family Credit and uptake of school meals in primary school

Sheena M. Somerville, Roberto J. Rona, Susan Chinn and Sameena Qureshi

in Journal of Public Health

Published on behalf of Faculty of Public Health of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom

Volume 18, issue 1, pages 98-106
Published in print March 1996 | ISSN: 1741-3842
e-ISSN: 1741-3850 | DOI:
Family Credit and uptake of school meals in primary school

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In April 1988, Family Credit families lost their right to free school meals. They were compensated by an increase in Family Credit of 65p per child per schoolday, subsequently uprated by the retail price index. Families on Income Support continued to be entitled to free school meals. The impact of this legislation on the uptake of school meals has not been documented.


The uptake of school meals by Family Credit and Income Support families over a decade was examined in two samples, each consisting of about 7000 English primary school children, one of ‘inner city’ children and the other more representative of the whole population.


The change in legislation resulted in an immediate drop in uptake by Family Credit children of around 30 per cent in both samples. By ethnic group, 42 per cent of the Asian Family Credit children changed from school meals compared with 10 per cent of the Afro-Caribbean children. Income Support children continued to have high uptake of about 90 per cent. By the early 1990s, half of the Family Credit children were not taking school meals, and the price of school meals was more than the allowance in 81 per cent of the areas in the representative sample, and in 45 per cent of the inner city areas.


Uptake of school meals is very sensitive to changes in welfare policy. Monitoring the impact of these changes on children's health and welfare in families with low resources continues to be an important activity.

Keywords: food services; schools; social security; socioeconomic factors; ethnic groups; England

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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