Thousands of South Yorkshire children set for free school meals

Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg meets a parent and her children on a classroom visit
Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg meets a parent and her children on a classroom visit

Expansion of free school meal provision means more than 46,000 South Yorkshire schoolchildren will benefit from the offer.

The Government is expanding the scheme so every infant school pupil in the country receives a free lunch – after a commitment by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat MP for Sheffield Hallam.

Mr Clegg announced the change at the Liberal Democrat party conference in September.

Under the policy all 46,601 infant schools in South Yorkshire will receive free meals from September 2014.

In Sheffield, at present, just 3,300 infant school pupils qualify - which will increase to more than 18,000.

Mr Clegg said: “I’m delighted thousands of local children and families across South Yorkshire will see real benefits.

“My ambition is every primary school pupil should be able to sit down to a hot, healthy lunch.

“We will start with infant school pupils, because teaching healthy habits young, and boosting attainment early, will bring the biggest benefits.”

Mr Clegg said the move will save the average family £400 a year.

Universal free school meals for primary school pupils were a recommendation in an independent review of school food produced for the Department for Education. The review found that, in pilot schemes, children’s academic performance improved.

Free schoolmeals expansion in numbers

18,175 - Youngsters who will be eligible for free school meals in Sheffield

10,805 - Free school meals to be given to Doncaster youngsters.

9,515 - Rotherham free meals

8,105 - Barnsley free meals

46,601 - South Yorkshire total