The National Food Survey records of household food purchases and information concerning the dietary pattern of the population, obtained from estimates of total food consumption in the UK showed that the nutritional value of the household diet exceeded the recommended daily intake for the majority of nutrients, at least until the end of 1973. However, it is known that with decreasing family income and increasing family size, average nutrient intake may fall below the recommended daily level for a few nutrients. The National Food Survey gives no indication of how food is distributed within the home, and it has long been recognised that children are a vulnerable group, particularly within larger families (3–4 or more children) on low incomes. The school meal was developed partially as a means of improving the diets of such vulnerable children.
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