Free school meals on the menu for over 43,000 children in Hampshire

From September 2014 all infant school pupils including 43,491 in Hampshire will benefit from a free hot and healthy meal at lunchtime.

In September Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced that every child in infant school in England will receive a free school lunch.

The Coalition will fund schools in England to provide free meals for all children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 in a measure that will save families £400 a year per child while helping to raise school standards and cut the attainment gap.

Universal free school meals for primary school pupils were a key recommendation in a recent review of school food produced independently for the Department for Education. The review found that, in pilots where all children had been given a free school dinner, students were academically months ahead of their peers elsewhere and more likely to eat vegetables at lunchtime.

At the same time, the Coalition will extend free school meals to disadvantaged students in further education and sixth form colleges. Free school meals are currently available only for eligible students at school sixth forms.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

"My ambition is that every primary school pupil should be able to sit down to a hot, healthy lunch with their classmates every day.

"We will start with infant school pupils because teaching healthy habits young, and boosting attainment early, will bring the biggest benefits."

Commenting Eastleigh MP Mike Thornton said:

"Millions of parents across the country are feeling the squeeze. During the course of a year, the average family spends £400 on lunch for each child. We are determined to ease the financial burden for these families and give every child the chance in life that they deserve, building a stronger economy and a fairer society."

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