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Hampshire's tasty ingredients for 56,000 healthy school meals a day

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Primary school children in Hampshire will be going to class on 'Italian tomato pasta' and 'Spanish chicken' when they return to school for Summer, with local produce such as beef meatballs from Overton and eggs from the New Forest also on the menu.

Served up with vegetables, many of which have been sourced from local south coast growers, it's the perfect choice for healthy, tasty meals to see them through the school day. And with the County Council freezing the price of a hot, two-course meal at £2 for the sixth year in a row, families are getting good value too.

HC3S, the Council's catering service, continues to keep to the Hyperactive Children's Support Group's recommendations to remove over 70 additives and colourings that could affect children's behaviour.

School dinners are currently enjoyed by more than 40,000 primary school children each day in Hampshire, with pupil take-up increasing to 42 per cent across all primary school years resulting in eight million meals being served during the current school year so far.

From September, all children in their first three years of school will be entitled to free school meals thanks to the Government's introduction of the universal free school meal offer. This is expected to increase the number of meals served by more than 20,000 a day across Hampshire.

Currently, more than 80 per cent of schools have their own kitchen, and where they don't hot meals are delivered from a nearby facility. The County Council has a planned investment programme to support schools to accommodate an increase in the provision of school meals, to ensure that every child who is entitled to will be able to have a hot school meal.

This investment is part of the Council's Capital Budget of £237 million and involves an extensive six month programme of necessary works to upgrade schools' facilities.

Councillor Keith Mans, Executive Lead Member for Children's Services at Hampshire County Council, said: "The school meals 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. There is work to do to ensure schools can support the provision of school meals as uptake increases. We have a job to do and we intend to do it well which is why we have planned an investment of £6.2 million to upgrade school capacity ready for September. There is strong evidence of the benefits to children of eating healthily during the school day and we are pleased to play our part to ensure that in Hampshire it will be done well and cost effectively."

For any parent or carer who believes their child is entitled to free school meals, we have an online service to allow parents to check their eligibility for free school meals. Parents can enter their details and those of their child to get an immediate result and, if eligible, this information will go direct to their child's school to inform them of the entitlement.

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