15,000 children in Cumbria will receive free school meals

The Westmorland Gazette: Coun Anne Burns Coun Anne Burns

AROUND 15,000 children in Cumbria are to be entitled to free school meals this autumn.

The change follows national legislation requiring all schools to provide a free meal for all pupils in reception and Years One and Two.

Cumbria County Council's ruling Cabinet rubber-stamped the proposal when it met last Thursday.

In Cumbria, 2,168 pupils across the age group received a free school meal in January last year – under the new rules the number will jump to around 15,000, said the authority.

But one head teacher branded the move a ‘false economy’ as it would mean paying out more in wages as staff were forced to work longer hours.

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Despite the council being given a pot of £1.15million to fund kitchen refurbishments or extensions to dining halls there are fears work may not be finished in time.

Schools have less than three months to adjust to feeding hundreds more pupils.

Judith Gore, head teacher at St Martin and St Mary CE Primary School, Windermere, said: “It’s a challenge and it’s rushed. It’s a massive amount of work to provide 140 more dinners than we used to.

“There isn’t just the meal, there’s extra staffing and making sure the parents want it. It is not one size fits all and that’s a potential problem.”

Coun Anne Burns, cabinet member for children’s services, admitted that adjusting to the demands of the new scheme would be difficult.

“It’s not easy when something like this gets dropped on you by government,” she said.

“We’re making sure that child-ren won’t suffer by working closely with schools to ensure they are fed nutritional meals.”

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The council issued a statement saying pupils eating hot school dinners were healthier and performed better academically.

Despite the controversy, a straw poll conducted by the Gazette revealed most head teachers were happy with the plans.

Mike Poole, head of Stramongate Primary School, Kendal, said: “It will save parents £400 a year which will make a real difference. From a moral viewpoint it’s a good thing that children have a good quality hot school meal.”

David Cutis, managing director of Dolce Ltd, Cumbria’s largest supplier of school meals, reassured small, rural schools, some of which do not even have a kitchen, that their children would be fed.

“There is a nodding agree-ment between Cumbria’s catering companies that we will look at how we can supply them with food even if it makes us a bit of a loss,” he said.

Comments (1)

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5:47pm Wed 11 Jun 14

Whinfell says...

This daft scheme was promoted by the Lib Dems.
Remember them?
I think they came 5th in a recent election.
I work in a Primary School and see daily how much food goes to waste every day.
Bear in mind the School meets all the healthy meal criteria.
At least 25% is returned to the slops bin and that is on a good day!
Less was wasted in the good old days of pie and chips and stodgy puddings.

This daft scheme will cost Tax Payers £1billion plus
Yes! You heard right first time!

Given the choice the majority of children choose packed lunches from home whereby they can discuss what they want with their parents.Hardly any food is then wasted.

A Pilot Study supposedly put forward the arguement that children learn better after a good meal.
Anyone who has ever worked in a Primary School will testify that children are 'done for' after lunch.
After a meal and an hour of running around the learning curve drops off.
That is why children are engaged in less onerous lessons after Lunch such as Art and Craft,geography.Musi
c and Assembly

The League Table orientated lessons are taught BEFORE Lunch.They would teach Science Lessons then but the timetable is full because of Literacy and Numeracy.

I can name chapter and verse Children who have achieved Level 5 results yet ate packed lunches all their lives.

Another fallacy: A healthy school meal will lead to healthy,less obese children.
Really?

Bearing mind the majority of the food they consume will be eaten at home,
one school meal for 39 weeks of the year will make no difference.

At least 90% OF PARENTS can already afford to feed their children at lunchtime.

Why waste £1billion on such a daft scheme in a time of austerity.
There was a Government Minister on TV the other day boasting how they had saved 14billion in cutting Public Service jobs.
Well done!
Then along come the wishy washy Lib Dems with their pie in the sky policy which will cost the taxpayer £1billion and counting!
Yes:still counting because they 'forgot' to take into account extra costs such as: Building Kitchens.
Extending Kitchens.
Buying extra Kitchen cookers,fridges and cooking equipment.
More plates,cups and cutlery.
Employing extra cooks and lunchtime supervisors.
This daft scheme was promoted by the Lib Dems. Remember them? I think they came 5th in a recent election. I work in a Primary School and see daily how much food goes to waste every day. Bear in mind the School meets all the healthy meal criteria. At least 25% is returned to the slops bin and that is on a good day! Less was wasted in the good old days of pie and chips and stodgy puddings. This daft scheme will cost Tax Payers £1billion plus Yes! You heard right first time! Given the choice the majority of children choose packed lunches from home whereby they can discuss what they want with their parents.Hardly any food is then wasted. A Pilot Study supposedly put forward the arguement that children learn better after a good meal. Anyone who has ever worked in a Primary School will testify that children are 'done for' after lunch. After a meal and an hour of running around the learning curve drops off. That is why children are engaged in less onerous lessons after Lunch such as Art and Craft,geography.Musi c and Assembly The League Table orientated lessons are taught BEFORE Lunch.They would teach Science Lessons then but the timetable is full because of Literacy and Numeracy. I can name chapter and verse Children who have achieved Level 5 results yet ate packed lunches all their lives. Another fallacy: A healthy school meal will lead to healthy,less obese children. Really? Bearing mind the majority of the food they consume will be eaten at home, one school meal for 39 weeks of the year will make no difference. At least 90% OF PARENTS can already afford to feed their children at lunchtime. Why waste £1billion on such a daft scheme in a time of austerity. There was a Government Minister on TV the other day boasting how they had saved 14billion in cutting Public Service jobs. Well done! Then along come the wishy washy Lib Dems with their pie in the sky[or pie in the school] policy which will cost the taxpayer £1billion and counting! Yes:still counting because they 'forgot' to take into account extra costs such as: Building Kitchens. Extending Kitchens. Buying extra Kitchen cookers,fridges and cooking equipment. More plates,cups and cutlery. Employing extra cooks and lunchtime supervisors. Whinfell
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