“Small schools will always need additional subsidy”: we react to UIFSM funding news

We’re disappointed to see that additional funding to help small schools deliver universal free meals for all infants (UIFSM) won’t be continuing.

Our CEO Linda Cregan says: “When UIFSM was first announced in 2013, I said that schools would need good support to deliver the policy well. That’s why we were so pleased that the original transitional funding to help small schools deliver UIFSM was extended, with an ongoing subsidy given last year.

“It’s now a huge disappointment that the small schools which can find UIFSM most difficult to deliver find themselves losing this funding, which can make all the difference between breaking even and making a loss on their universal free school meals.

“The School Food Plan highlighted that these schools face significant challenges to deliver great school meals with the budgets they have. Helping them create viable services was one of the plan’s key recommendations, and there has been invaluable work to explore solutions since.

“Small schools are creative, collaborative and innovative to deliver good school food to their children but the bald fact remains that many will always need additional subsidy to do this. UIFSM is a legal requirement and its funding must be sufficient to make sure every child gets a good meal.

“If we remember the central purpose of UIFSM – to help every child eat better in their earliest years at school – removing this funding risks damaging the quality of the food on children’s plates, a sorry scenario as government finalises its strategy to improve the nutrition of every child in this country.”