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Schools and chefs prepare for roll-out of free school meals
INFANT pupils can look forward to a free school meal from September, with all schools in Bucks putting plans in place to get ready for the change.
As part of a Government pledge to provide free lunches to all Key Stage One pupils, Bucks County Council is currently implementing the plan using a £1.1million grant.
All 160 infant and combined schools in the county have either put in place, or are looking at, different arrangements to put food on the table for four to seven year-olds.
Mike Appleyard, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: "We're absolutely committed to providing our primary children with a nutritious meal daily.
“I'm convinced by the very robust research that shows children are more attentive and focused on learning if they get nutritious food at lunchtime."
Half of the schools already serve meals every day using a ‘hub and satellite’ arrangement, with seven strategically placed in the county kitchens despatching food.
Using the cash, these have been given extra capacity to handle additional demand.
Of the remaining 63, 10 schools are creating their own solutions, like Haddenham St Mary's.
Here, top chef and friend of the school Raymond Blanc has inspired them to consider using local produce, cooked locally, to serve a number of partner schools with nutritious meals.
The other 53 are exploring two potential 'super kitchen' providers, who would provide plated meals with no waste and no washing up. Sample tastings will take place over the next two or three weeks.
Simon Brown, operations manager joint commissioning for BCC, said it has been a challenge meeting the demand on a finite budget.
He said: "Our fantastic chef-led hub and satellite system has given us a strong basis on which to build.
“We'll be in a position to serve nutritious meals to all 20,000 Key Stage 1 pupils in our schools, within budget, many of which have no catering facilities. And that has, on occasions, stretched the extents of our creativity and resourcefulness, but we rose to the challenge and we're almost there!"