Hull City Council is increasing its subsidy of school meals, meaning Hull schools are now able to offer lunchtime meals for 50 pence per day to children aged seven to eleven.
Hull’s Health and Wellbeing Board wanted to reduce the cost to parents of healthy school meals for children aged between seven and eleven, as part of working towards one of their key aims of helping children to have a healthy start in life.
68 out of 71 Hull primary schools have introduced this price to parents.
The Health and Wellbeing Board has also provided funding to schools for school meals' staff training and new or improved kitchen equipment, to facilitate a higher take up of children eating school meals across the city.
Chair of Hull’s Health and wellbeing Board, Councillor Colin Inglis said:
“A nutritionally balanced and healthy meal is important to help reduce the epidemic of obesity, and reducing the price of school meals will impact on the marginal poverty which many families in Hull are facing.
“Reducing the impact of poverty, we know, affects all other public health indicators positively and this subsidy would give each family with a child staying for school meals a saving of over £120 a year.
“As far as we are aware this means Hull Primary Schools are providing the cheapest school meals in the country.”
Emma Latimer, Chief Officer of NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:
“Improving health and wellbeing in children and young people, so that they can go on to achieve their full potential, is a high priority for NHS Hull CCG.
“We welcome the introduction of 50p school meals in Hull primary schools. This scheme has particular benefits for children from lower income families, and, as well as being good value for money, school meals provide an excellent opportunity to promote healthier eating habits in children and young people that can last well into adult life.”
Councillor Rosie Nicola, Portfolio Holder for Learning, Skills and Safeguarding Children said:
“Evidence suggests that a nutritionally balanced lunchtime meal increases attendance and attainment, and has significant health benefits.
“The introduction of 50p meals in our schools means children can have a healthy lunch which we know helps them to fulfil their learning potential. For parents we’re offering an easy, convenient and inexpensive option for feeding their children well at lunchtime. We know that working parents are under real financial pressure at the moment. So cutting the price of a school meal to 50p – only £2.50 per child per week – will have a real impact on household budgets.
"I believe the quality of our school meals in Hull is exceptional. We have invested heavily in improving and installing kitchens in the City’s schools and now we’ve reduced the price to 50p. Who could provide a decent packed lunch for that kind of money? Financially and nutritionally “staying school dinners” in Hull is today a no brainer.”
It is estimated that there will be a five to seven percent increase in take-up of school meals following reduction in daily cost. This is based on the increased uptake following the introduction of Universal Free School Meals for children in reception, year 1 and year 2 which commenced in September 2014. Following introduction there was a 10 percent increase over a four month period, which is an average of an extra 11,000 meals per week.