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Hampshire school meals reach record high

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

New figures from Hampshire County Council show more primary school children than ever before are now tucking into a tasty, healthy meal at lunchtime.

A further 0.6million meals were dished up in Hampshire's primary schools by the Council's catering service, HC3S, compared to last year, making a total of 7.4million meals served during 2012/13. The figure represents an increase of 8% on the previous year.

With almost 39,000 primary school pupils (40.6%) across the county now eating HC3S meals every lunchtime, this is the highest figure recorded by the service.

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.

Around £2million a year is spent by the County Council on sourcing local produce, and Hampshire's school meals contain ingredients such as beef from Laverstoke Park, 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 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. The primary school menu is also now completely nut-free.

The new figures were reported to Members of the County Council's Buildings, Land and Procurement Panel (BLAPP) at their meeting on Tuesday 25 June.

BLAPP Chairman, and Executive Member for Income & Capital Resources, Councillor Mel Kendal, said: "These latest figures show that school meals in Hampshire have never before been so popular, and are going from strength to strength. Not only are they full of quality and healthy ingredients, but they are also delicious, and offer excellent value for money for parents as the price of a meal has remained at £2 for the last five years.

"All children should be able to enjoy a nutritious, tasty meal at lunchtime, so following a successful scheme last year, we are again looking at offering all Reception class pupils at Hampshire primary schools, lunches to enjoy free, for two weeks during the 2013 Autumn Term.

"By listening to pupils and parents and asking them about their preferences, the County Council continues to serve really high quality menus in schools, that offer children a variety of choice as well as providing them with tasty lunchtime favourites."

Recommendations from the BLAPP meeting will go before the County Council's Executive Member for Policy and Resources for approval on 25 July 2013.

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