Free School Meals Served Up In Dorset
6:56am 2nd September 2014
From today over 9,000 pupils in Dorset under the age of 7 will be entitled to free School Meals.
Of those nearly 600 are currently living in poverty and are set to benefit from the changes.
All year 1 and 2 children will be able to rely on at least one nutritious meal every school day, helping many hard pressed families living in poverty.
The new policy, was first announced by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg last September.
Despite complaints from some authorities that the government hasn't provided enough cash for the scheme, ministers insist 98% of schools will be ready when lessons resume this week.
Cllr Toni Coombs Cabinet Member for Education and Communications at Dorset County Council agrees with the policy but not with the timing;
"I have always been very supportive of the principle of free school meals. What I have been critical of is the timing of the announcement which was 9 months and the timing of the funding which was 6 months, which has meant an extraordinary problem for getting everything ready on time when you are talking about 138 primary schools across Dorset."
"We've been allocated £833,000 by the Government to upgrade our school kitchens to introduce the free schools meals and I am very pleased to say with a lot of careful accounting we have been able to provide everything within budget."