Campaign hopes children will get a taste for school dinners
A campaign has been launched to increase the take-up of school dinners by primary school children.
Over 1.1 million meals were served in primary schools last year by Hartlepool Borough Council’s School Meals Service, but it aims to increase that figure in the new academic year.
It says children eating a school dinner benefit from a high-quality, healthy two-course meal which, at £2 per day, also represents great value for money.
Overall take-up of primary school meals, both paid-for and free, is 73% and the council aims to increase the paid-for take-up rate of 32%.
It acknowledges that while free school meal take-up is relatively high at 81%, there will still be a number people who are not claiming their entitlement.
Councillor Alan Clark, chair of the council’s Children’s Services Committee, said: “As the town’s main school meal provider we recognise that we have an important role to play in the health and well-being of children in Hartlepool.
“Our School Meals Service is committed to fresh, sustainable, locally-sourced, high-quality food, and parents can be reassured that if their children eat lunch at school then they are guaranteed to receive a nutritious meal of the highest possible standard.”
The service’s commitment to quality was recognised recently when it was re-accredited with the Soil Association’s “Food for Life” Bronze Catering Mark for Primary Schools – an award that requires 75% of the menu to be freshly prepared daily on site from unprocessed ingredients.
The service currently has more than 200 kitchen staff operating in 30 primary schools.
Facilities management officer Lynne Bell, who heads up the School Meals Service, said: “All of our schools have a 5* rating under the Food Standards Agency’s Food Hygiene Ratings and we have also designed a colour code system – red for protein, blue for starchy carbohydrates, green for vegetables and pink for desserts – which is clearly displayed on all school menus. Children can easily recognise that if they choose a portion of food from each colour category then they will be eating a well-balanced meal.”
For more information about the council’s School Meals Service go to www.hartlepool.gov.uk/schoolmeals. To find out if your child is eligible for a free school meal and apply, call (01429) 284188.