EVERY school in East Staffordshire will serve infants free meals from the start of the new school year.
Staffordshire County Council revealed that it had visited every school in the area to revamp kitchens so that they are up to standard and able to offer all pupils in reception class and Year One and Two free food from September.
The move has been designed to try and make sure that youngsters get a proper meal at school, moving towards more fruit and vegetables rather than chips and cakes.
Ben Adams, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for learning and skills, said: “Many larger schools just didn’t have the facilities in place to meet the increase in demand when all the youngest children are entitled to a meal.
“We commissioned our services provider Entrust to inspect more than 180 schools and then carry out the necessary work.”
The Department for Education made education authorities responsible for ensuring schools with more than 150 pupils were able to meet the Government commitment, while smaller schools will receive funding direct.
Work to prepare schools has ranged from installing serving areas, refrigeration and new ovens, to making structural alterations to accommodate equipment and moving mains electricity and gas supplies.
Local suppliers and tradesmen are being used wherever possible to complete the work.
Ben Adams said: “The importance of healthy eating in schools has long been recognised in Staffordshire and we are proud of the balanced, nutritious meals provided. The new initiative will allow more children the opportunity to benefit from a good meal to set them up for a day’s learning and I hope in the long run it will encourage more children to carry on eating school dinners.”