After evaluating the impact of `free school meals for all pupils' in North East schools, a new study has found that free meals not only help close the gap between the rich and poor schoolchildren, but can also boost exam results.
Carried out by the National Centre for Social Research, Bryson Purdon Social Research, and the Institute of Fiscal Studies, the study chiefly examined the effect of free meals on the schoolchildren in two pilot areas --- Durham and Newham.
Though the `free school meals' project was initiated in 2009 by the Labour Government, it was shelved by the coalition last year, on the grounds that it was too expensive.
However, with the recent evaluation of the project having clearly shown that school children who got free meals made 1-2 months more progress than their counterparts who did not get the meals, Judy Hargadon - the CEO of School Food Trust - said that the benefits of the `free school meals' scheme outweighed the costs involved in looking after children with a poor diet.
Noting that the findings of the study are "serious food for though," Hargadon said schoolchildren who were offered free meals in the two pilot areas not only did "significantly better in class - with an average of two months more progress by pupils at key stages 1 and 2," but were also "less fussy about what they ate at home."
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