Page last updated at 08:11 GMT, Friday, 1 May 2009 09:11 UK

Free school meals scheme unveiled

Children eating
The scheme will assess the benefits of a hot meal for schoolchildren

Free school meals are to be offered to all primary schoolchildren in two local authorities in a bid to boost their health and wellbeing.

From September, County Durham and Newham in London will take part in the two-year-pilot scheme.

In addition, in Wolverhampton, means-testing for free meals will be altered so that more pupils qualify.

The government will fund half the £40m project, with the rest coming from the councils involved.

'Missing out'

The pilots aim to find out whether free school meals reduce obesity, improve academic performance, and improve eating habits at home.

Results will be evaluated by the National Centre for Social Research.

Children's Secretary Ed Balls said: "Healthy school dinners feed the minds and bodies of our children helping them to get the most out of their school day, and these pilots will let us understand the benefits of a hot dinner for all pupils.

"We are determined that those eligible for free school meals but not claiming them, do so.

"It is not good enough that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are missing out on a free healthy meal every school day."

Health Secretary Alan Johnson added: "All parents want to give their children the best possible start in life, and improving access to healthy food in schools is one way we can help."



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Test of free school meals for all
24 Sep 08 |  Education
Schools told to end meals decline
02 Oct 07 |  Education
School meals 'must be made free'
26 Apr 05 |  Education
School-gate fast food ban urged
28 Mar 08 |  Health
Meals take-up rises in primaries
10 Jul 08 |  Education

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific