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London primary schools to offer free lunches to all

04/09/2009 Joanna
All primary school children living in the London borough of Newham are eligible for free lunches under a new government pilot scheme.

The initiative, also underway in County Durham, aims to reduce childhood obesity and improve overall health.

According to children's welfare charity End Child Poverty, Newham is one of the poorest areas in the capital with 69 per cent of children living in low income families.

Launching the scheme, secretary of state for children, schools and families Ed Balls said: "Eating a nutritious meal at lunchtime from a young age can help improve the behaviour of children in school and at home – that's why these pilots are so important."

He went on to urge families across the UK eligible for free school meals to claim the support as it could offer savings of around £1,000 for parents with two children.

The pilot's launch follows the release of new research by the School Food Trust, which found one in five low income families are neglecting to check whether they could get free lunches.

Written by Harriet McGowan

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