Free school meals and menu choice for pupils


Staff reporter (Chester First)

CHILDREN in and around Chester will be given the chance to vote on which menus will be on offer in in schools from September.

All pupils in reception, Year 1 and Year 2 in state-funded schools in England will be eligible for free school meals. This will include academies, free schools, pupil referral units and alternative provision as well as maintained schools.

Pupils will have their say as the Cheshire West and Chester Council school meals team ask their young diners what they would like to see on the menu.

Starting next week, pupils will be voting for their favourite menus, picking four out of the eight available. Each menu has been analysed for its nutritional content, balance and popularity.

The menus include ‘Cheshire Favourites’, ‘Best of British’, ‘Celebrating World Food’ and ‘Experience the Taste’.

Highlights from the menus include breaded salmon with herbs, diced potatoes and parsley sauce, roast turkey with cranberry sauce and gravy, Greek style meatballs with salad in a warm pitta pocket and tzatziki.

Cllr Mark Stocks, executive member for children and young people, said: “Our schools meals team has developed eight exciting and diverse menus, taking inspiration from local, national and world cuisine.

“But we are handing the decision about which meals make it on to pupils’ plates to the youngsters themselves.

“We hope they have fun choosing which menus they would like to eat, and perhaps it will help to introduce them to new foods too.”

Cheshire West and Chester catering services is the main provider of school meals in the borough, preparing 17,000 dishes every day. Meals are provided in 127 primary and special schools and 12 secondary schools.

Half of children in West Cheshire currently have a school meal.

With the introduction of universal infants free school meals (UIFSM), the service is expecting to serve at least an additional 5,000 meals every day – taking the total meals served each day to about 23,000.

Councillor David Armstrong, shadow spokesman for children’s services, said: “A nourishing school lunch helps children prepare better for afternoon lessons, and
this voting exercise is a fun way of getting youngsters thinking about the food
they eat."

See full story in the Chester Leader

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