The number of school dinners eaten in Hertfordshire has risen to its highest level in a decade.
The introduction of a "packed lunch option" is believed to have contributed to the increased meal uptake within the primary sector.
Figures from Hertfordshire Catering, the county council's school meals provider, show that in February 49.3% of primary school pupils were taking school meals against a national average of 41.4%.
From April 2010 to February 2011, 44,000 meals were served to primary pupils every day, an increase of 1,700 on the previous year.
"We're delighted because this is the highest figure for over a decade," said Lin O'Brien, head of Hertfordshire Catering.
Figures for secondary schools are also following the trend. Daily meal uptake for January 2011 was 41.3%. During the year from April 2010 to January 2011, the uptake was 38%, against a national average of 35.8%, with more than 13,675 students eating meals at school.
"The key to our success is that we provide freshly prepared food on a daily basis from quality ingredients, with menus that pupils and students enjoy," O'Brien said. "Our team is committed to giving customers an enjoyable lunchtime experience and their parents recognise the benefits of a nutritious meal."
Richard Thake, Hertfordshire County Council's executive member for education and skills, said: "These impressive figures speak for themselves and reflect the commitment of our catering staff who prepare good school food every day. A nutritious and tasty school lunch helps children to recharge their batteries and be at their best for afternoon lessons."
The catering staff is on target to serve up 7.8 million meals in primary schools this year, compared with 7.4 million last year.
By Gemma Rowbotham
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