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​Dentists call on government to extend free school meals to every child

Today, we delivered a joint open letter and petition to 10 Downing Street, calling on the Prime Minister to follow the example of the Welsh and Scottish Governments in extending the provision of free school meals to every child in primary school in England.

Open letter to the Prime Minister

Alongside the No Child Left Behind campaign and other organisations, we took part in the event with support from MPs and Lords, to raise awareness of the issues and put pressure on the government to act.

“Our kids are born into a toxic food environment, and dentists see the results every single day” said BDA Chair Eddie Crouch.

“Tooth decay is the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children, and bad diets are fuelling it. Free school meals is simple step that would put prevention to work in every school in this country.”

A new survey of health professionals coordinated by National Education Union’s No Child Left Behind campaign, finds almost 4 in 5 health professionals said that they had noticed teeth decaying or being damaged at a higher rate than usual (78%). Our members alongside our friends at the School and Public Health Nurses Association were asked about the impact of bad diets on children’s health.

65% of health practitioners said children’s health had gotten worse as a result of hunger and poor nutrition. Almost a third of respondents said that children were experiencing an increase in the incidence or severity of health problems to a large extent (28%).

Child hunger and poor nutrition is having a particularly severe impact on children’s dental health. 78% of respondents said they had encountered children’s teeth decaying or being damaged at a higher rate than expected.

During a cost-of-living crisis many parents in the squeezed middle are already making choices, for themselves and their kids. We believe food – and good food – should be a vital way to bring children together, regardless of their parents’ incomes.