In a study conducted by Northumbria University's Healthy Living Lab around half of the children who received free school meal vouchers are reporting a significant drop in their intake of fruit and vegetables since schools closed in March.
Just over half of pupils who would have received free school meals at school stated they had eaten no fresh vegetables across a three-day period following the UK's COVID-19 lockdown. Almost half reported having eaten no fruit in the same period, yet many reported a large increase in consumption of sugary drinks and snacks.
The findings of the study have been released on Monday 8 June, a week after many English schools re-opened their doors to children in selected year groups and just a few days after the Welsh government announced schools would be re-opening at the end of the month.
Northumbria University's Healthy Living Lab is one of the UK's leading research centres into issues around the provision of child feeding programmes and holiday hunger. Researchers were keen to investigate what children entitled to free school meals would be eating when it became apparent that the UK was going to enter a period of lockdown and schools would be closing their doors to all but the most vulnerable pupils and children of key workers.