Free school meals for EVERY primary school pupil
Tower Hamlets Council has gone above and beyond the Government’s nationwide scheme by launching free schools meals for every primary school pupil in the borough.
It has become part of a select group of councils by offering this service. Just three others currently provide free meals for all primary pupils.
Last year the council started providing free school meals for all Reception and Year 1 pupils. After the success of this policy, it has expanded the scheme to include all primary school children. This goes further than the Government’s new policy, which only caters for the first three year groups.
The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, formally launched the policy today (Tuesday, September 9) by enjoying lunch with pupils at Chisenhale Primary School.
He said: “We know the importance of making sure every child has a hot and nutritious meal every day. Healthy children make better learners and the high performance of the schools in Tower Hamlets is testament to this.
“While news reports talk of free school meals causing a crisis in school kitchens around the country, here in Tower Hamlets we were already ahead of the curve.
“With the support of headteachers, our award-winning catering service has gone beyond the Government’s policy and expanded its operation to serve a free meal to every primary school pupil in the borough every day.”
Every primary school pupil in the borough, including those at non council-run schools such as free schools and academies, has been entitled to a free school meal since the start of the summer term last week, regardless of their family’s income.
Cllr Gulam Robbani, cabinet member for education and children’s services, joined Mayor Rahman at today’s launch.
He said: “It was great to meet the children today and to hear what they thought of their school meals. Back in my day it was all boiled cabbage and lumpy mashed potato but I was delighted to hear how things have changed.
“The children themselves say they look forward to lunchtime because the meals are tasty and healthy.”
Chisenhale pupil Magnus Thackway, 10, said: “Everything about the food is really good. I normally eat a different meal every day and I enjoy trying new things.”
Amelia Noor, 10, said: “When it gets cold I can have a hot meal and when it’s hot I can have something cold. All the meals are really yummy. My mum used to be a chef and the food is just as good here. I get nice food all the time.”
Helen James, headteacher at Chisenhale Primary School, said 310 more pupils at her school were now enjoying a free meal every day.
She said: “I see what a difference it makes when a child has a healthy, hot meal inside them. The children learn to try new foods and have a sociable lunchtime together. It also helps them to work better in the afternoon after a proper lunch.”
Myles Bremner is responsible for implementing the School Food Plan, which sets out to transform what the nation’s children eat at school and how they learn about food. One of the actions is to roll out universal free school meals.
Mr Bremner praised Tower Hamlets Council’s latest initiative, saying: “The educational and health benefits of children all being given free school meals are well documented and I applaud Tower Hamlets Council for taking the bold step of investing in this important area. I hope other councils will follow suit.”
The council’s school catering service was recently named the best in Britain at the Lead Association for Education Catering (LACA) Awards.
It was also recently announced that Tower Hamlets is one of only four London councils to have been given an A* rating by the Marine Stewardship Council, which runs the world standard for sustainable seafood.