Thousands of Pupils Tucking Into Their Free School Meal

The huge rise in the number of children having free school meals has been praised by the School Food Trust.

Northamptonshire County Council embarked on an ambitious campaign to increase by 10% the take up rate for free school meals by 2009.

Latest figures show an extra 1,300 children are having free school meals compared with last year. This means that since 2007 the take-up has increased by 35%.

Cabinet member for children and young people Councillor Joan Kirkbride said: “These figures are fantastic news. We have smashed our target of 10% and week by week the number of children having free school meals is increasing.

“It’s so important we give children the best possible chance in life by ensuring they eat good nutritious food to assist their learning.

“I would still urge all those people who think they are entitled to free school meals to get in touch and ensure through healthy and nutritious food, their child is getting the best out of their school day.”

The county council started its drive to improve healthy eating in schools and help children get the right food in 2006.

The county council’s drive was in response to the establishment of the School Food Trust by the government whose remit was transform school food and food skills, promote the education and health of children and young people and improve the quality of food in schools.

Chris Wainwright, director of communications at the School Food Trust, said: “It is fantastic news that Northamptonshire County Council has been successful in increasing the amount of children taking up free school meals. We know that this isn’t something that can happen overnight and could only have been achieved through sheer hard work.

“It is important that schools and other local authorities address the reasons why some children still choose not to eat school food after registering and why some families do not register despite qualifying for free school meals. The Trust’s top priority is ensuring that as many children as possible eat a tasty, balanced and nutritious school lunch and we will continue to work with and support local authorities to make sure we achieve this.”

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