Free meals work

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Hugh Reilly (Perspective, 14 January) approves of free school meals. My approval of such was reinforced by an experience in Sri Lanka in 1980.

I took a group of postgraduate health workers there to study local health problems. A paediatrician told us how the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had reintroduced childhood malnutrition to that country.

The government had given a free rice ration to all families with young children. The IMF said it could not afford it and it was stopped. Child malnutrition, which had largely disappeared, came back. The free ration for all ensured that the children of poorer families got fed.

The situation here and now is different, but I support the idea that all school children should get free meals and those who can afford it should pay through their taxes.

(Dr) David Stevenson

Blacket Place