Ninety per cent of eligible children across Nottingham are tucking into free school meals after a country-wide scheme kicked in last month.
The first government figures on the scheme have revealed that the 90 per cent take up across Nottingham exceeds the recommended guidelines, which stand at 87 per cent.
The initiative, which was announced last year by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, kicked in at the start of the new school term.
It means that all Reception, Year One and Year Two children in state-funded schools in England are now entitled to free school lunches.
Councillor Nicola Heaton, Portfolio Holder for Community Services, said that the council is really pleased with the figures as they show that nearly all Key Stage 1 children in the city are benefiting from healthy, nutritious free school meals. She added:
“We have always been fully committed to providing the best possible meals for children in our schools and now more pupils than ever are eating them. “We will continue to work hard to ensure that parents, carers and the children themselves recognise the crucial importance of school dinners to improving health and learning, and the benefits of the universal free school meals scheme.”
Alison Tones, the Head Teacher at Rufford Primary School in Bulwell, heaped praise on the new school meal initiative. She said that she thinks it has really made a difference at her school:
“A healthy midday meal is vital to pupils’ learning. It has been great to see so many of our Key Stage 1 children so attentive and with so much energy in their afternoon lessons.”
Another school Head Teacher, Geraldine Kelly from St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Hyson Green, has also praised the results of the scheme. She said:
“As the term has progressed the midday supervisors have noticed that the children are becoming more adventurous with food they are not familiar with and there is less waste. “The younger children are always keen to know what is on the menu before lunch and discuss their favourite. They are definitely more alert in the afternoon!”