Northamptonshire County Council has been awarded £1.17million to provide free school meals for reception, Year 1 and Year 2 pupils across the county.
The Department for Education funding has been allocated as part of the Government’s Universal Infant Free School Meals programme, which enables infant school age children to benefit from a free hot lunch.
The programme was introduced in September and around 79.2% of eligible families in Northamptonshire are now taking advantage of a free school meal.
The funding, awarded for the year 2015/16, will be spent on improving kitchen and dining rooms, buying new kitchen equipment and introducing salad bars.
Cllr Robin Brown, county council cabinet member for public health and wellbeing, said: “All evidence shows that having a good, nutritious meal at lunchtime is not only better for children’s health but also helps them to perform better in the classroom, so we want as many families as possible to take advantage of Universal Infant Free School Meals.
“Unlike in other parts of the country, our school meal service Nourish was only introduced four years ago, so this funding will make a huge difference to enhance the infrastructure we have to deliver school meals across the county.
“It will enable us to improve school kitchens and dining rooms in schools across Northamptonshire and we hope this, in turn, will encourage more children to opt for a free, healthy hot meal at lunchtime.”
Families with children at one of the 176 county schools served by Nourish can register for Universal Infant Free School Meals and means-tested free school meals by visiting www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/schoolmeals, or by visiting any Northamptonshire library.
For parents whose child’s school does not use Nourish, they should speak directly to the school to sign up for school meals.