The Government’s Universal Infant Free School Meals programme will be rolled out across the country for the first time when schools return from the summer holidays next week.
The scheme, aimed at boosting children’s performance in the classroom and avoiding health problems such as obesity, will see a free cooked meal available to every child in reception class and years one and two.
Switching from packed lunches to school meals will save parents an estimated £400 a year, and while school meals are not compulsory, education chiefs are urging people to take advantage of the offer.
Cllr Nick Bennett, East Sussex County Council lead member for learning and school effectiveness (pictured), said: “Children who eat better, learn better, and research has shown those who have school meals tend to be months ahead in their school work.
“I’d strongly encourage parents in East Sussex to take up the offer of healthy, nutritional free school meals.”
School meals will be based on Government guidance, ensuring they are nutritionally balanced, with meat and vegetarian options.
Parents of infant school children will automatically be offered free school meals, but families who qualify for free meals throughout their child’s school career are being asked to ensure they register their eligibility.
By registering their child for free meals as soon as they start school, parents ensure they will continue to receive them once they move on from infant school – and won’t have to apply again.
It will also ensure schools will continue to receive valuable funding which is based on the number of children eligible for free school meals.
Parents can get more information by contacting their child’s school directly or going online at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/schoolmeals