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Government reveals figures for school meals cash hand-out

25 August 2005
Government reveals figures for school meals cash hand-out

Local authorities have been told how much cash they will get to improve school meals next year.

The money, which has been allocated by the Government for the 2005/06 school year, is the first £30m of an overall £130m set aside for local education bodies in England.

This year's cash, and two further £50m annual payments, must be spent by schools exclusively on improving school food.

Top of the list is Kent county council, which has been awarded 804,396 to boost its school meals output. It is followed by Essex and Birmingham, which have been allocated 754,864 and 724,332, respectively.

The grants are based on pupil head count and the number of students eligible for free school meals. Based on a figure of 43% of pupils eating school meals, the cash works out at between 9p and 10p per pupil per day. The money will be spent on ingredients, training and improving catering equipment.

A Department for Education and Skills (DfES) spokesman said: "This funding is intended to help local authorities place school meals at a level of quality which at least meets the minimum nutritional standards for school meals.

"It will also ensure a minimum spend on ingredients of at least 50p per primary school child and 60p per secondary pupil."

A spokeswoman for Hounslow Council in London, which will receive 138,419, gave the news a cautious welcome. "It's not so much the one-off funding that's crucial but getting money for sustained improvement. If levels aren't sustained, the quality will go down again when the money goes."

Hull city council, which offers free school meals to all its 21,000 primary school children, will get 154,593 in additional funding.

A spokesman said: "We welcome very much any help towards improving school meals. However, we are committed to spending a substantial amount of money in addition to this allocation to continue to improve our primary school meals without passing the costs on to the parents."

Food service consultant Vic Laws questioned the basis for allocating the money. "There was no other way to calculate the money because the Government stopped recording the numbers taking paid school meals seven years ago.

"It might be that local authorities with more pupils are not necessarily supplying more meals, but 9p to 10p per head per day is not to be sneezed at."

Three annual payments of £30m will also be made directly to schools, which are free to spend the money how they want in order to address local issues.

Click here for the full list of school meals grants for education authorities.

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