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Over 10,000 local infant children to receive free school meals

October 11, 2013 5:10 PM

Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced that starting next September every child in infant school in England will receive a free school lunch. In Stockport alone over 10,000 children will benefit.

The Coalition government will fund schools in England to provide free meals for all children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 in a measure that will save families an estimated £400 a year per child while helping to raise school standards and cut the attainment gap.

Universal free school meals for primary school pupils were a key recommendation in a recent review of school food produced independently for the Department for Education. The review found that, in pilots where all children had been given a free school dinner, students were academically months ahead of their peers elsewhere and more likely to eat vegetables at lunchtime.

At the same time, the Coalition will extend free school meals to disadvantaged students in further education and sixth form colleges. Free school meals are currently available only for eligible students at school sixth forms.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

"My ambition is that every primary school pupil should be able to sit down to a hot, healthy lunch with their classmates every day. We will start with infant school pupils because teaching healthy habits young, and boosting attainment early, will bring the biggest benefits."

Local MP, Mark Hunter, added:

"This is great news for the millions of parents across the country that are feeling the squeeze. Next year all of Stockport's four to seven year olds will benefit from a free hot and healthy meal at lunchtime; over 10,000 children in all. During the course of a year, the average family spends £400 on lunch for each child, and we are determined to ease the financial burden for these families and give every child the chance in life that they deserve, building a stronger economy and a fairer society."