School meals free for first three years from September

PRIMARY school children in Hampshire will be going to class on ‘Italian tomato pasta’ and ‘Spanish chicken’ when they return to school for the summer term.

Local produce such as beef meatballs from Overton and eggs from the New Forest can also be found on the menu. Served up with vegetables, many of which have been sourced from local south coast growers, it's the perfect choice for healthy, tasty meals to see them through the school day. The price is frozen at £2 for another year HC3S, the Council's catering service, continues to keep to the Hyperactive Children's Support Group's recommendations to remove over 70 additives that could affect children's behaviour. School dinners are currently enjoyed by more than 40,000 primary school children each day in Hampshire, with pupil take-up increasing to 42 per cent across all primary school years resulting in eight million meals being served during the school year so far. From September, all children in their first three years of school will be entitled to free school meals thanks to the Government’s introduction of the universal free school meal offer. This is expected to increase the number of meals served by more than 20,000 a day across Hampshire.

Currently, more than 80 per cent of schools have their own kitchen, and where they don’t hot meals are delivered from a nearby facility. The County Council has a planned investment programme to support schools to accommodate an increase in the provision of school meals, to ensure that every child who is entitled to will be able to have a hot school meal. Councillor Keith Mans Hampshire CC Children’s Services spokesman said: “There is work to do to ensure schools can support the provision of school meals as uptake increases. We have a job to do and we intend to do it well which is why we have planned an investment of £6.2 million to upgrade school capacity ready for September. “There is strong evidence of the benefits to children of eating healthily during the school day.” .

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