The government has announced new measures to ensure all schools are able to provide free school lunches to infant children.
From September 2014, all infants in state-funded schools in England will be entitled to a free school meal. The new announcement features details of the funding which was pledged by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg last year to help schools prepare for the change.
Last year, it was announced that £22.5 million is to be provided to assist small schools. A minimum of £3,000 of funding will be given to each school to enable them to extend or improve kitchen facilities and address transitional costs. The extra money comes on top of the £2.30 per child per day revenue funding.
A number of other measures are being introduced to support the government initiative. A support service, run by the Children's Food Trust, will provide advice on various issues that may arise and give one-to-one help, if required.
Charity Magic Breakfast will be able to set up breakfast clubs in schools where children turn up feeling hungry, while other charities will provide support to boost school meal take-up in 2,000 junior and secondary schools.
Schools Minister David Laws said the new measures will provide the necessary support for schools in the six months before the initiative is rolled out.
"Every child deserves the best possible start in life, and we know from pilots that children in schools that offer universal free school meals are academically months ahead of their peers and also more likely to eat vegetables at lunchtime instead of less healthy food like crisps," he added.
He said the policy would help households, as parents currently spend £400 a year on lunches for each child.
The new measures form part of the £1 billion package announced to ensure every infant across the UK receives a healthy meal during the day and £150 million to allow schools to expand their kitchens and catering facilities.
Posted by Charlotte Michaels