The government minister refuses to debate Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver BBC Radio 4 Today programme

The TV chef appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today program (Image: Getty Images)

The government declined to debate with Jamie Oliver his calls for free school meals to be extended to all children whose parents receive Universal Credit.

The TV chef guest chef edited BBC Radio 4’s Today Program as part of his campaign, but no Ministers from the Department of Education were apparently available to join Jamie on the show.

Westminster Council recently announced that all children attending state-funded primary schools in the district will be entitled to free school meals from next year.

However, households in England receiving Universal Credit must earn less than £7,400 a year before benefits and after tax to qualify for free school meals.

Speaking to moderator Nick Robinson, Jamie said he was “proud” of the council’s new policy.

“Any school, 32,000 in number, can be like that,” he said.

“We must celebrate that. So of course I’m proud of what they’re doing here. And when you see it working… you know it’s not rocket science.”

He was asked about the high cost of providing free school meals and why the children’s parents should not be expected to feed them instead of the government.

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plate of food

The TV chef has called for free school meals for children whose parents are on Universal Credit (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

“That can only come from the lens of someone who has never been hungry or struggled,” he said.

“If, like me, you’ve looked into the eyes of parents worried about their child being fed… whatever values ​​you carry around the society we live in, forget them.

“When parents worry about feeding their children, chaos ensues in many, many, many, many different ways that are directly immeasurable.”

Sir Tony Blair supports Jamie’s calls for free school meals to be introduced for children whose parents receive Universal Credit.

On the show, he said, “This is absolutely fundamental.”

Jamie Oliver

He was known for championing healthy eating options in the past (Picture: Getty Images)

“I honestly believe there is nothing more important to the future of the country than making sure we address this – early childhood education and well-being.”

A spokesman for the Department of Education said the government understands the pressure many households are under.

“We understand the pressures that many households are under, which is why we are supporting more children and young people than ever before,” the spokesman said.

“Over a third of pupils in England currently receive free school meals in educational establishments and we have just announced a further investment in the National School Breakfast Scheme, extending the scheme for a further year, with support of up to £30m.

“We have responded to rising energy costs with the Energy Price Guarantee and have saved a typical household over £900 this winter.

“The Energy Bill Support Scheme is also offering a £400 rebate to millions of households this winter, with further support available for the most vulnerable who will receive £1,200 each this year.”

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Justin Scacco

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