Some Sheffield schoolchildren will have to rely on a ‘meals on wheels’ service when the Government’s free lunches scheme is launched.
Sheffield Council officials admit not every primary school has facilities to provide a hot meals service because of the popularity of packed lunches with pupils.
But they insist the flagship policy for under-sevens introduced by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will be fully implemented from September.
A national survey found 1,700 primaries across the country have no kitchen.
Councils are to receive a share of a £150 million pot to upgrade school catering facilities – which Liberal Democrats insist is sufficient.
Taylor Shaw, Sheffield’s main catering contractor, was asked to review provision in city schools shortly after the policy was announced by Mr Clegg, Liberal Democrat leader and MP for Sheffield Hallam, last September.
Since then, arrangements have been put in place to have hot meals delivered directly by van to some primaries to ensure they stick to the new rules.
A council spokesman said: “The timescale has been quite tight since this policy was announced and a lot of hard work has been undertaken over the last six months.
“There were some schools found which didn’t have adequate facilities, although the number was not huge.
“A lot of schools had wound down on hot meals over the years because more children are taking in packed lunches.
“The detailed plan is currently being implemented, which will make sure all schools in Sheffield will have the facilities and staffing required to deliver universal free school meals effectively.”
Mr Clegg said an extra £22.5 million had been provided specifically to help smaller schools.
“Free meals will improve the lives of many children, as well as saving families more than £400 a year per child.”