PARENTS are being encouraged to book school meals for their children at the start of the new school year.
Reading Borough Council and its contractor Chartwells are keen to see more families taking advantage of the schemes which guarantee pupils healthy, tasty and nutritious food.
All pupils aged between four and seven-years-old are entitled to receive free school meals while parents on low incomes can also apply for free school meals for a child of any age.
Menus offered in Reading’s schools meet the silver Food for Life accreditation which is an independent scheme guaranteeing the food on offer is fresh, locally sourced and meets nutritional guidelines.
Dishes currently on the menu in Reading schools include roast dinner, fish and chips, pasta Bolognese and jerk chicken along with puddings such as berry flapjack, brownie and fruit crumble. Jacket potatoes, fresh fruit, yoghurt and homemade bread are also available every day.
Pupils and parents in Reading are asked for their comments on meals through taster sessions and through school councils, and menus are often reviewed in response.
Chartwells also carries out an annual national survey to seek the views of parents on topics such as menu choice, quality of food, value for money and awareness of free school eligibility. Results for Reading are reviewed through the School Meals Scrutiny Board and feedback is given.
Schools encourage parents to sign up their children for school meals by inviting them in for a school meal to eat with the children, through lunchbox slips, banners at the school gates, attendance at parent evenings and school newsletters.
Information on the criteria for free school meals eligibility and the universal infant free school meals scheme is also regularly sent out to parents through schools and can also be found on the Council website at www.reading.gov.uk/schoolmeals.
Councillor Tony Jones, Lead Councillor for Education, said:
“The Council is committed to ensuring good quality, nutritious meals are available for every pupil at lunchtime and that those who are eligible for free school dinners take their entitlement.
“Parents whose children have a school lunch can be confident they are getting a tasty, healthy meal which is great value for money.
“I would encourage parents to start the new school year by taking advantage of the excellent meals that are on offer at school every day.”