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Hampshire school meal prices held for sixth year running

Monday, 27 January 2014

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 sixth consecutive year.

At his decision day on 22 January 2014, Councillor Peter Edgar, Hampshire County Council';s Executive Member for Education, approved keeping the price of school meals at its current level of £2 per meal. This is the sixth year in a row that the Council has not increased the price, providing good news for families under increasing pressure in the current economic climate.

More and more pupils are now enjoying a tasty, healthy school meal, with increased take-up. The number of meals served in schools this year will exceed 10 million; seven million in primary schools and three million in secondary schools. More than 39,000 primary children in Hampshire, an average take up of 40.8%, enjoy school meals each day, including those entitled to free meals.

On 22 January 2014, a school capital programme of over £237 million was approved by the Council which also includes provision to enable school kitchen and dining facilities to be upgraded. This is to ensure that increased take-up of school meals can be accommodated following the Government's initiative to provide free school meals for all school children from reception year through to year two (aged four to seven years) from September 2014.

Commenting, Councillor Peter Edgar said: "I am mindful that we are living in difficult economic times so I hope this news is welcomed by parents. In my view, these meals represent excellent value for money. The school meal service provides nutritious meals, working closely with schools, pupils and parents to create varied menus that are healthy and tasty. It also plays an important role in the development of healthy eating habits among children, which can be key to preventing problems such as obesity in later life.

"It has 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. Eating together also provides children and young people with a valuable opportunity to further develop their social skills and widen their experiences."

Councillor Keith Mans, Hampshire County Council's Executive Lead Member for Children's Services, said: "The high take-up of school meals has enabled us to once again hold the price of school meals at £2 for the sixth year in a row. We will review this price again next year to ensure that the costs of delivering the service are fully recovered during a time of rising costs.

"In addition to holding the price, we have committed to investing in school kitchen and dining facilities this year as part of our school capital programme. This will ensure that the Council continues to provide a high-quality and nutritious school meal service to all children and young people amid the increase in take-up and the Government's initiative to offer free school meals to children in reception year through to year two."

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