London's Islington to provide free school meals

04 March 2009 by
London's Islington to provide free school meals

Islington Council in north London is to provide free primary school meals to children under eleven from September, making it the only local authority in England to do so.

Following a successful Labour-led amendment at a budget meeting last week, children in the borough will be eligible for free school meals from the start of the new academic year.

Private contractor Cater Link, part of BaxterStorey owner the WSH Group, is the current incumbent and serves 13,000 meals a day at 45 schools and nurseries, with meals costing £1.80.

Islington has the second highest percentage of children eligible for free school meals in London at 42%, behind Tower Hamlets, with 37% taking it up at present.

The initiative will cost a reported £2.9m over the next two years and will benefit around 12,000 pupils, as well as saving the average family in the borough an estimated £600 a year.

But he added that the scheme was a "great opportunity to get healthy eating out to a wider audience".

"We won't have a problem producing the extra meals but at some of the sites we'll have the challenge of making sure we get the increased volume of kids through at lunchtimes," he told Caterersearch.

Liverpool City Council is believed to be conducting a feasibility study over introducing free school meals.

The Liberal Democrat controlled council in Kingston upon Hull scrapped the city's free school dinners programme in 2007 arguing the £5m it cost to run could be spent better elsewhere.

For more see our school meals round-up >>

Row erupts over free school dinners in Scotland >>
Cater Link extends school dinner contract in Camden >>

Industry welcomes free school meals plan >>
Harrison signs pledge for London living wage >>
Cater Link wins Islington school meals contract >>
Kingston upon Hull Council members vote to abolish totally free school meals service >>

By Chris Druce

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