Thursday, 4 September 2014

Free School Meals For 25,000 Children In West Sussex

From today, up to 25,000 children in West Sussex will receive free school meals. I think this is a great move by the Coalition government, not least because the focus will be on healthy eating and the eating habits young children develop can stay with them for life. Child (and adult) obesity has got worse over the last couple of decades and this is a step in the right direction. Below the picture is today's press release issued by West Sussex County Council.

All infant aged children now get a free school meal. 
From this week around 25,000 pupils in reception classes and years one and two will be able to enjoy school meals for the first time, free of charge.

Every infant aged child is now able to receive free healthy and nutritious meals, thanks to a government initiative which could save parents over £300 per child annually.Schools are responsible for ordering the meals so there is no need for parents to worry.

West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, Jeremy Hunt, said: “We’re delighted to be able to introduce these free meals for infant aged children. As well as saving parents money, having a healthy and nutritious meal can also help improve concentration in the classroom. The expansion of the infant and primary school meal service has also seen the creation of 250 new part-time jobs in the county, so the initiative is also having a positive effect on our local economy.”

Although parents don’t need to do anything for their children to receive the meals, they are being urged to take a few moments to check if they can unlock extra funding for their child’s school.

By filling in a simple form parents on certain benefits can ensure their school receives extra money called the pupil premium.The money is used to support their child at school and to help boost their achievements. Primary schools receive £1,300 each year for each eligible child for up to six years.

However, a child only becomes eligible by actually registering for free school meals. Because the meals for infant children are being provided automatically, and registration is not required, this could mean schools miss out on thousands of pounds.

You can find out more about the meals and whether you can unlock the extra funding by searching for ‘free school meals’ at www.westsussex.gov.uk or by emailing fsm@westsussex.gov.uk.

Schools decide how best to spend the pupil premium fund. This could include helping pupils with their learning, contributions towards the cost of school trips or buying school equipment. From today, up to 25,000 children in West Sussex will receive a free school meal. .   

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