Free school meals sees 90% uptake

School dinners
School dinners

THERE has been more than a 90 per cent uptake in new free school meals among infant pupils in South Tyneside, since the introduction in September last year, a council report reveals.

It is estimated the revised free meals policy equates to a saving of £400 a year for a family.

Meanwhile, the borough’s school meal charge of £2.10 has been frozen for a second academic year for junior-aged children and secondary school pupils, who are not eligible for free school meals.

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council, said: “Our schools were well placed to meet the challenge of the extra free meals. Kitchens and equipment are well maintained and school catering teams are highly skilled and strongly supported by the council’s Catering Operations Team.

“A minority of schools required more kitchen staff, extra dining tables and additional cooking equipment and refrigeration.

“Catering officers consulted with schools well in advance to agree strategies to ensure a smooth transition in September.”

Across all infant and primary schools an average of 800 extra meals are now being served every day, with an average free meal uptake of 91.5 per cent.