We met with Jackie O’Neil and Cat Byrne of the Healthy Pupils Unit, Andy Hudson from the Free School Meals unit, and Sarah Campbell, Policy Advisor for Early Years and Childcare all at DfE on the 28th November. The informed us that the School Food Standards would be updated during 2018. This will mainly reflect changes to guidance on sugar consumption and is unlikely to directly impact on milk. The officials outlined the projects currently benefitting from the revenues of the Soft Drink Levy, and explained that that funding had been allocated for the assigned projects until 2020. The officials stated that Ofsted’s thematic review on obesity, healthy eating and physical activity would report early in 2018. We have previously written to Nick Ceadel, the policy lead on the review, introducing the Alliance and highlighting the importance of milk, as well as asking for more information on the review and to meet with him. The officials also noted that the early years menus had been well received.
 
DfE and Public Health England (PHE) have published guidance for healthy eating in early years settings, including example menus, as part of the Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan. The guidance is very positive about milk, and recommends that children should only be offered milk or water, and that children aged one to four should be given three portions of dairy a day.
 
HMRC has opened a consultation on proposals to change the eligibility criteria for Free School Meals. The consultation is looking at how the introduction of universal credit will impact on eligibility for free school meals, and has proposed changes meaning that no child will lose their eligibility during the roll of out Universal Credit, and that up to 50,000 pupils being eligible for the scheme.
 
We have produced a briefing on the Scottish Government’s consultation on its obesity strategy. It proposes that the Scottish Government lobby the Westminster Government to require that milk drinks which are exempt from the soft drinks levy should have a minimum milk content of 95 per cent rather than 75 per cent as at present. The consultation seeks to “exploit the widest range of opportunities” to promote healthy living in children.
 
We have also contacted the Scottish Government to get an update on the planned revision of the Scottish school food regulations.  They have indicated that a consultation will be launched in spring 2018. We will continue to engage with officials and monitor for any consultations.
 
 

Nursery Milk and School Food Standards
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