Children enjoy free hot lunches

More children are taking advantage of the free school meals for infants.

More children are taking advantage of the free school meals for infants. - Credit: Archant

AN INCREASING number of children have been taking advantage of the launch of free school meals across North Somerset’s schools.

Each school was able to open its new, upgraded kitchen on time to allow all pupils up to the age of seven to enjoy a hot free lunch.

Schools reported a slow, daily rise in the number of pupils opting for hot meals at lunch time last week.

A North Somerset Council spokesman said: “We are delighted with the way the introduction of universal infant free school meals has gone (UIFSM).

“We were able to open all our new and upgraded kitchens on time and all of our key stage one pupils are able to enjoy a hot free school lunch. Early indications are that this is being well received.

“So far most schools have not had the reception pupils in for lunch and this will be the next challenge over the next couple of weeks, but given how well the start of term has gone, we do not think there will be any major issues.

“It appears that despite our best efforts, many parents of children in years one and two were still unaware of the new entitlement but this is changing day to day.”

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More than £530,000 was spent on new kitchens and cooking equipment after legislation was released, making free school meals available to all children up to the age of seven.

An extra 4,000 hot lunches were expected to be served daily in schools across the district. Parents and carers who are already entitled to claim free school meals due to financial circumstances are still being urged to apply for them to enable schools to access extra funding.