Free school meals helping make children ‘equal’

Launch of a Government scheme to give free school meals to all infant school pupils, pictured tucking into a healthy meal at All Saints C of E Infants School are Coun Jason Zodrozny and Coun Tom Hollis
Launch of a Government scheme to give free school meals to all infant school pupils, pictured tucking into a healthy meal at All Saints C of E Infants School are Coun Jason Zodrozny and Coun Tom Hollis

Thousands of youngsters across the region are tucking into free school meals for the first time as the Government initiative has kicked in.

All infant-aged pupils are now entitled to free school meals which means Nottinghamshire County Council are dishing up an extra 12,000 school meals a day.

But it has been ‘chaotic’ in some schools as the new scheme is takes shape.

Tracy Gibbs, family support worker at All Saints C of E School, in Ashfield, has overseen the dinner time arrangements.

She said: “It’s a great scheme and children having meals has risen significantly but it is little bit chaotic as we haven’t got a kitchen.”

The one school cook has to go to Mapplewells Primary School - several miles away - cook the meals and then taxi them back.

She then has to go back to wash up cutlery.

Miss Gibbs said it would be much easier once their new kitchen is installed - which looks set to be the end of the October.

She said the numbers having school meals has risen dramatically, with nearly three quarters of children all having a hot meal.

“It’s a great scheme and brilliant that children are given the choice to have a hot meal.”

Councillors visited the school to see how it was going.

Coun Jason Zadrozny, for Sutton in Ashfield North, said: “This really helps equalize children so everyone can sit together. I was talking to one child who said she enjoyed having a hot meal as there wasn’t much food at home. It was really upsetting hearing that. It just makes you realise how important schemes like this are. It can really help parents and take the pressure off them.”

Many parents have contacted the Chad to say they are now saving money thanks to the scheme and others have said their children are now trying more foods.

The county council had to supply 240 primary schools with the meals.

Contact the free school meals team with any queries or call 01623 433009 or www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/schooldinners for more information.