25 September 2014

Families across Northamptonshire are being reminded they can now claim free school meals for children in reception, Year 1 and Year 2.

Universal Infant Free School Meals were introduced in September and latest figures show 52.3% of pupils in the county are taking advantage of the free lunch, with this number set to increase when reception class children start attending for the full school day.

What do parents need to do?

Northamptonshire County Council’s school meal service Nourish is now urging parents who have not yet ordered a free meal for their child to sign up.

And to make it even easier for families to benefit from the scheme, parents who don’t have access to a computer can now order their child’s meals at any Northamptonshire library. All they need to do is take their activation letter from Nourish along to a library and staff will set them up on a library computer.

Cllr Robin Brown, county council cabinet member for public health and wellbeing, said: “We have been pleased with the number of children who have opted to benefit from free hot dinners since the start of the new school year. We’re expecting the take-up rate to increase once children in reception classes are at school for the whole day, but we think there are many more pupils who could be benefiting now from this scheme.

“Nourish has created a menu of nutritious, healthy meals that children will enjoy, and we know having a good meal at lunchtime improves pupils’ performance in afternoon lessons. Families can also save money on their weekly grocery bill by opting for free school meals for their child, so there really isn’t any reason for families not to sign up.”

What meals will children be offered?

An example of a typical primary school menu is:

  • Beef bolognaise with pasta shapes, with a side serving of mixed vegetables
  • Vegetarian option of pasta Neapolitan with wholegrain French bread and mixed vegetables
  • Alternative choice of jacket potato with tuna and sweetcorn mayonnaise
  • Lemon drizzle cake and custard, plus fresh fruit

Schools will receive additional funding depending on the number of children who register for free meals, earning £2.30 for each meal ordered based on the average of two census days which will fund Universal Infant Free School Meals for the summer term 2015.

Funding was allocated for the autumn and spring terms based on the prediction that 87% of infant school pupils would opt for free school meals.

Parents can order school meals online by visiting www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/schoolmeals.