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School Lunch Take-up Survey 2014

Primary children in class
Published: February 2015

Aim

This feasibility study looks at what information schools in England hold on pupil take-up of school meals. It will inform a decision by the Department for Education on whether to survey schools directly about school meal provision and take-up and the best way to collect this information.

The study was conducted during the 2013/14 academic year.

Publication

You can download the report here.

Key findings 

  • While nearly all schools offered a hot meal in the 2013/14 academic year (97%), the average take-up of school lunches was 42.6 per cent.
  • The average take-up rate was 35.5 per cent for paid lunches and 75.1 per cent for free school meals.
  • The price of a lunchtime meal ranged from £1.00 to £3.00 with a mean of £2.04. For every increase in average price by £1, take-up of school meals fell by 18.5 percentage points.
  • Lunchtime meals were most expensive in the South West (£2.17) and London (£2.04) and cheapest in Yorkshire and the Humber (£1.90) and the North East (£1.95)
  • Over half of schools, 59%, did not know the financial impact of providing a lunch service.  
  • Of those schools that knew the financial impact of providing a lunch service, 46% broke even, 14% made a surplus, while 41% made a loss. 

Methods

We've been asked to contact a number of schools (both primary and secondary) to find out more about the types of information they hold on school meal take-up.