PARENTS in Herefordshire will save almost £2m because of the free school lunches, according to the Department for Education.
The new scheme, being introduced in September, will make all four- to seven-year-olds eligible for free school meals.
There are 4, 983 children of that age in the county, set to start back at school in just over two weeks.
And with the Children’s Food Trust estimating that parent s spend up to £400 a year on each child’s school lunches, the initiative is expected to save up to £1,993,200.
However the practicalities of how you deliver school meals to almost 5,000 year one and two pupils has yet to be released to all parents.
While letters have been sent out to Mordiford Primary School parents, detailing which students qualify and asking them to choose from a menu, at Hampton Dene Primary School – which doesn’t have a kitchen – new parents have been left in the dark over how the scheme will work.
All meals will be subject to government standards, and aim to ensure all students receive a healthy, nutritious lunch.
That compares to just one per cent of packed lunches that meet those standards, according to research by the Children’s Food Trust.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “My goal is to create a level playing field for all of our children so their success will be determined by their talents and efforts alone and not by their parents’ bank balance.
“Free school meals for infants will not only save families hundreds of pounds a year but will also have an impact on how a child performs in the classroom.”
Studies by the DfE have shown that a healthy lunch helps concentration and learning.
And the government also hopes that the initiative will help tackle childhood obesity numbers, with Children’s Food Trust research showing that around 20 per cent of children nationwide are obese by the time they leave primary school.
For more information on free school meals visit www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-infant-free-school-meals .