BOLTON is on track to deliver the government’s free school meals scheme this September.
And a senior councillor has praised Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg for following Bolton’s example when it comes to serving up school dinners.
The Bolton News reported this week that this September children in reception year one and year two will be dinning out for free as school meal costs are scrapped.
But Bolton Council has been providing free or discounted school dinners for primary school children since 2009 — meaning the schools in Bolton are already prepared to serve up the new government policy.
Cllr Nick Peel said: “We have been running major initiatives for some times, making our school meals the most affordable in the country and having the highest uptake.
“We introduced subsidised meals for a variety of reasons. It has been shown that children who eat a healthy meals have better concentration levels and they also benefit from a healthy lifestyle.
“There are also benefits to parents who are saving a lot of money through the subsidised meal in these tough times.
“It is good to see Nick Clegg following Bolton’s example.”
School meals promotions, which were first introduced in 2009, have led to more than 2,700 additional pupils tucking in to a school meal each day in Bolton.
They cost £1.25 compared to the regional average of £2.05.
In 2011 Bolton Council was praised by the Government for its “pioneering” approach.
Cllr Peel said there was currently some additional investment going into expanding dinning halls and improving ovens.
But he said schools in Bolton were on track to deliver free school meals to all five to seven-year-olds who want them.
Some local authorities are facing a shortfall in the funding they need to ensure the scheme can be delivered.
The government has provided £150 million to cover the cost of bringing school kitchens and dinning facilities up to scratch, but some local councils say this is not enough.
Cllr Peel added: “We already have the infrastructure in place and there is some capital investment taking place.”