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Newham Council celebrates 15 years of free school meals scheme

28th May 2024 - 07:00
Newham Council celebrates 15 years of free school meals scheme
Newham’s pupils, teachers, school cooks and council are celebrating 15 years of Eat for Free, which ensures that every primary schoolchild regardless of their family income receives a hot and nutritious lunch.

There are 71 primary schools in the Eat for Free scheme and it is the longest running primary free school meals scheme in the country. The milestone has been marked with a celebration over nourishing school meals at Curwen Primary School in Plaistow.

On Wednesday 22nd May, pupils and teachers were joined by Newham Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care Neil Wilson and the Lead Member for Children and Young People Sarah Ritz. They used the gathering as an opportunity to reflect on the progress made, while also considering how the scheme can be developed further.

Wilson and Ritz said: “The scheme is extremely important to us and we continue to develop it, in partnership with our local schools. The scheme is also important in terms of the sustainable sources of food used, the important role of educating our children in healthy eating and employing a local workforce, with the overwhelming majority living in Newham and receiving the London living wage.

“The feedback from our children is that they enjoy the range of meals served to them on a daily basis and the food they’re eating is having a positive impact on them in the classroom. We are looking forward to celebrating our next big milestone of fuelling the next generation in Newham.”

The local authority has since worked closely with schools to ensure changes have been implemented appropriately, feedback is always considered and key challenges are worked through together.

Michael Hales, chief operating officer at Juniper Ventures Limited and national vice chair elect of LACA, added: “The whole Juniper team are delighted to be the leading provider of this invaluable scheme across Newham and prepare and deliver over 22,000 meals hot, healthy and nutritious meals a day across the community and beyond ensuring improved academic achievement and behaviour in school and an easing of the financial burden on the local community.”

Written by
Edward Waddell