Hundreds of Sheffield infants are tucking into free meals this week as part of an offer at 20 city schools.
The initiative marking National School Meals Week is designed to introduce youngsters in reception classes to the benefits of a freshly prepared nutritious daily dinner.
Schools to benefit are Acres Hill, Arbourthorne, Athelstan, Ballifield, Carfield, Dore, Emmaus, Gleadless, High Green, Hucklow, Malin Bridge, Netherthorpe, Pipworth, Porter Croft, Rainbow Forge, Sharrow, Shortbrook, St Ann’s RC, St Catherine’s RC and St Patrick’s RC.
The scheme is part-funded by health group Sheffield Change4Life and is being delivered by catering company Taylor Shaw.
The move follows a similar pilot scheme called Welcome to School Meals, which was carried out in Sheffield over two weeks during the 2012/13 academic year.
Taylor Shaw provides catering to 115 primary schools across the city and has seen a gradual and sustained improvement in take up of school meals since being awarded the contract in 2011.
The move also comes after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg made a pledge in September promising free school meals for all infant pupils across the country from next September.
The Sheffield Hallam MP said there was hard evidence that by giving a child a hot nutritious meal over lunchtime improved their concentration and their ability to learn.
Taylor Shaw’s general manager Peter McGrath said: “Unfortunately there may be some children that do not have even one healthy, nutritious meal a day.
“Giving them the chance to do so by offering them a free freshly prepared meal at school is vitally important not just for children’s health, but for giving them the best chance of being on task in class.
“Now that the Government has announced plans to make meals free for children in Key Stage One from next September, we hope that this will encourage even more children to choose school meals in future and be better equipped to fulfil their potential.”