Free school meals pilot extended

Bookmark and Share

More primary school children will be getting free school meals from September 2010 following an announced by Ed Balls to extend the government's free school meals pilots.

Bradford, Islington and Nottingham are piloting the free schools meals across the whole local authority with Cumbria and Medway targeting the universal offer to specific areas of the local authority.

The new pilots join three earlier ones which began in September 2009 in Durham, Newham and Wolverhampton and will last for two years.

Durham and Newham are also testing universal free school meals for all primary age children and Wolverhampton are testing extended eligibility for free school meals.

These eight pilots will investigate whether free school meals reduce obesity, change eating habits at home, impact on behaviour and academic performance at school, improve school standards and improve general health and well-being.

Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families Ed Balls said: "We know good health is vital if children and young people are to enjoy their childhood and achieve their full potential."

"We want to support all families, children and young people to make healthy choices and lead as healthy a life as possible and these pilots will provide us with important information on the impact of having a free, healthy, hot meal each day. I hope that enjoying nutritious meals from a young age will also establish healthy eating habits for life."

The cost of each pilot will depend on the number of children involved. All local authorities were invited to apply.  Bids were assessed against the following criteria: the local authority could match fund a primary free school meals pilot for one year; schools and the local authority have the capacity to deliver the pilot from September 2010; where several bids were received from one Government Office region they were assessed against high free school meal eligibility and low take up; and value for money of each bid.