Hampshire Now - your County Council magazine

Free lunches on the menu for Reception schoolchildren in Hampshire

Friday, 13 September 2013

Hampshire County Council is offering little children starting school for the first time this Autumn, the chance to enjoy free school meals every day for a fortnight.

School meals in Hampshire are currently enjoyed by over 39,000 primary school children every lunchtime, with each meal providing a child with a third of the recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals over the three week menu cycle.

To encourage even more children to try these tasty and nutritious meals, the County Council's catering service, HC3S, is inviting primary schools to offer the meals free for Hampshire's 14,000 new Reception pupils for a fortnight. Around 300 primary schools are expected to take part in the offer which will run throughout the Autumn Term. Schools will be contacting parents with the details and dates of the fortnight they will be offering Reception children the free school meals.

More and more children are now tucking into a delicious, healthy school meal each day, with a total of 7.4million meals served during 2012/13 - an increase of 8% on the previous year.

Throughout the year youngsters can select a main meal, a side helping of vegetables and salad together with either potatoes, pasta or rice. Desserts may include a choice of ice cream, or fruit jelly or handmade pudding such as a cupcake or a lemon drizzle finger.

As well as being nutritionally balanced, Hampshire's school meals contain ingredients from over 20 local suppliers, with ingredients such as beef from Laverstoke Park Farm, free range eggs and ice cream from the New Forest, apple juice from Selborne, and fish from well-managed, sustainable fisheries. Since 2005, school meals have also been free from over 70 artificial colours and preservatives that can affect a child's behaviour. HC3S can even cater for children with medically proven allergies, ensuring meals are available for everyone. The primary school menu is also now completely nut-free.

Councillor Roy Perry, Leader of Hampshire County Council, said: "The County Council continues to provide high quality healthy meals using local produce, and they are more popular than ever. Following the success of the scheme last year we have decided to offer free school meals to Reception children again this year.

"Pupils and parents have told us what they would like to see on the menu and we have listened. Menus in our schools offer children a variety of choice as well as providing them with appetising, wholesome lunchtime favourites.

"All children should be able to enjoy a nutritious, tasty meal at lunchtime, and we are proud to be able to make that to happen with sustainable local produce."

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