Thousands of primary school children in Bolton will get discounted school lunches for longer.
Bolton Council has extended a £1 charge for school meals in place from January to March for the rest of the year.
The scheme has been expanded to encourage more children to enjoy a healthy meal as well as helping more families through the recession.
In Bolton, school meals usually cost £1.80, which means families will save £4 per week per child.
The council made school meals free for all new starters in the autumn term in 2008. Last year, during the summer term, they were available for a discounted price of £1 and the scheme was extended to year one pupils in the autumn.
The take-up of school meals rose to an average of 86 per cent for the free school meal promotion and 69 per cent for the £1 meal deal.
Council bosses are hoping that more pupils will carry on enjoying a school meal once the scheme finishes.
Councillor Ismail Ibrahim, Bolton Council’s Executive Member for Environmental Services, said: “We’re extending the scheme to give more children the opportunity to enjoy a healthy, balanced school meal for an affordable price, for a longer period of time. At a time like this every penny counts so what better way to help families struggling in the current climate? For a family with just one child it would mean a saving of just over £150 a year which is a significant amount.”
The extension of the scheme was officially launched at Clarendon Street primary school yesterday (January 14).
Pupil Humaira Karchi, aged 10 years old, was on packed lunches before January. She is now enjoying tucking in to school meals because of the £1 offer. Humaira said: “I like them because you get a variety and the food is nice, healthy and hot. I think it’s good that the council is encouraging us to have school meals.”
Councillor Ibrahim added: “Not only are families saving but like Humaira said pupils get to tuck in to healthy, hot meals. According to our research, the top two reasons given by families who are taking up the £1 offer is that they know their children will receive a healthy meal and the savings aspect. Our school meals are among the best in the country and we’re hoping to see more pupils tucking into a school meal for longer through this scheme."
Jan Hutchinson, Bolton’s Director of Public Health, also welcomed the decision. She said: “This will help families to ensure that children are getting a healthy meal at lunchtime at a reasonable price – which helps with families’ budgets but also plays its part in efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of Bolton’s children and young people.”
The scheme is partly being paid for from the dividend that the council receives from its share in Manchester Airport. Children who are eligible for a free meal will still receive them as normal.