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Nine-Year-Old Tears Into Clegg Over School Meals

Thursday 4th September 2014

Nick Clegg's free school meals policy came under heavy fire today, when a nine-year-old schoolboy challenged him on Call Clegg.

Rohan called from his south London school to tear apart the Deputy Prime Minister's flagship plan to offer free meals to all children up to the age of 7.

The eloquent nine-year-old had Mr Clegg on the ropes as he complained that the meals were often unhealthy and there was no reason why rich parents should get free meals for their children.

"The evidence shows that it is in fact extremely helpful so in the schools where this has been introduced in the past," the Deputy Prime Minister responded.

"Not only does it save Mums and Dads money, about 400 a year to pay for the lunchtime costs, it's not only good for your health because - I'm sure this is not the case for you Rohan - but quite a lot of children go to school with lunch boxes which don't have very healthy food in them, I don't know, a slice of white bread with some chocolate spread and a fizzy drink, where it is better to have a proper cooked hot, healthy meal with vegetables and so on," he continued.

"Actually, the schools where they've done this they've shown that the children who eat healthily at lunchtime, because they can concentrate better in classes in the afternoon, do better at English and Maths than children who don't."

However, Rohan went on to question why the free school meals aren't means tested - or targetted at poorer communities.

"Actually the children who benefit the most are the children who are poor, who are not wealthy, who don't have lots of money. There are about four in ten children in our country who are categorised as being poor - by the way you really should go into politics, you're one of the most articulate nine year olds I've ever come across - there are lots and lots of children, four in ten children who are poor, who the Government says are in poverty, don't receive free school meals," Nick Clegg replied.

"There aren't just certain areas of the country where there are poor children who don't receive free school meals, they're everywhere and as I said the evidence is that if you really want a class to do well having children share a meal together, healthy meal together at lunchtime, so everybody, if you like, starts the classes in the afternoon with the same energy, that has a dramatic benefit."

As one political pundit said: