In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Lewis said that the initiative would also encourage parents to eat at pubs at weekends.
“If they’ve got children at lunchtime, going to school and having a good meal, the parents are going to view that pub in a positive way. It’s playing a part in the community and they might go back for Sunday lunch, and that makes the pub more sustainable,” he said.
A small number of rural primary schools already take children to local pubs for lunch. They include Swell Primary School in Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, where pupils eat at the Golden Ball Inn.
Education experts have predicted the number of pubs will increase later in the year following the Government’s pledge to provide free school meals to all infant pupils from September.
Lewis also told the paper that pubs doubling up as coffee shops, village stores, cinemas and libraries will preserve their place “at the heart of their communities”.
British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “It’s a great idea, as schools and pubs are both vital to local communities; there must be hundreds, if not thousands of places where this would work well, so schools currently struggling with their school meals certainly should be exploring the possibilities.
“And once again, it is great to see Brandon Lewis championing pubs and the really vital role they play.
“We need to learn from where this works well, and also encourage flexible local authority catering contracts, to enable schools to enter this relationship.”
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