School meal prices held for fifth year in a row
Tuesday, 29 January 2013
Hampshire County Council is serving up some good news for parents with the announcement that the price of a school meal is to be kept at £2 for the fifth consecutive year.
At his decision day on 23 January 2013, Councillor Roy Perry, Hampshire County Council's Executive Lead Member for Children's Services, approved keeping the price of school meals at its current level of £2 per meal. This is the fourth year in a row that the Council has not increased the price of the meals - providing good news for families under increasing pressures in the current difficult economic climate.
More and more pupils are now enjoying a tasty, healthy school meal, with increased take-up. Around 10million meals are likely to be served in the County's schools by the end of the school year, based on current numbers. More than 39,000 primary children in Hampshire now enjoy school meals each day, including those entitled to free meals.
The rise in popularity of the meals served by the County Council's Catering Service (HC3S) is attributed to the addition of a number of tasty lunchtime favourites on the menu, including roast dinners which are now available twice a week, chilli meatballs, pizza, and fish on a Friday. For vegetarians, choices include sweet potato and lentil curry, vegetarian sausage puff and Italian tomato pasta.
Throughout the year youngsters can select a main meal, a side helping of vegetables and salad together with either potatoes, pasta or rice. Dessert is a choice of fresh fruit or handmade pudding such as chocolate beetroot brownies, or cherry jumble biscuit. Every meal combines to make up a third of the recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals for a child over the weekly menu, which also helps support learning in the classroom. Meals also include locally sourced ingredients, such as Hampshire beef and pork, free range eggs from the New Forest, apple juice from Selborne, and fish from well-managed, sustainable fisheries.
Since 2005 school meals have been free from over 70 artificial colours and preservatives, meeting the criteria of the Hyperactive Children's Support Group (HACSG) for the removal of additives that can affect a child's behaviour. HC3S can also cater for children with medically proven allergies, ensuring meals are available for everyone.
Commenting, Councillor Perry said: "I am mindful that we are living in difficult economic times so I hope this news is welcomed by parents. The high take-up has enabled us to hold the price for the fourth year in a row and in my view, these meals represent excellent value for money. HC3S works closely with schools, pupils and parents to create varied menus that are healthy and tasty, and the service plays an important role in the development of healthy eating among children, which can be key to helping prevent problems such as obesity in later life. It has also long been recognised that a child's diet not only affects their physical health but also impacts on their behaviour, concentration and performance in the classroom. The school meals service also provides a vital contribution towards supporting local food producers where possible, which is important for the development of the Hampshire economy."
Parents can also find out if their child is entitled to a free school meal, with the free online service provided by the County Council.