An event was held on December 10 at Newland St John school to mark the millionth school dinner served to Hull’s primary pupils since the cost was halved to 50p per day. In July 2014 Hull’s Health and Wellbeing Board allocated £577,000 of funding to make healthy school food more affordable for parents. The move proved popular, with 68 of 70 city primary schools reducing the price and in September 2015 dinners were served to more than 29,000 children compared with 23,000 before the cut.
Cllr Colin Inglis, Chairman of the Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “When we halved the cost of school meals, we did so with one of the board’s key priorities in mind; for children to have a healthy start in life. Access to healthy, nutritionally balanced meals is essential in tackling the risk of childhood obesity and can help challenge health inequalities which affect poorer families.
“Through the board, we take steps where possible to ease the impact poverty has on health. We have certainly achieved this in saving parents who choose school dinner £120 per child per year. It is also reassuring and convenient for parents to know that for just 50p their child can be guaranteed a high-quality meal at lunchtime”.
Today’s celebration meal will see children and school staff share Christmas dinner with representatives from the wider community, including Cllr Rosie Nicola, portfolio holder for Learning, Skills and Safeguarding Children.
Cllr Nicola said: “There are direct educational benefits associated with the provision of nutritionally balanced lunchtime meals, including increased concentration, attendance and attainment. Almost every one of Hull’s primary schools has introduced the price cut, which has allowed thousands of children to benefit nutritionally, educationally and financially.
“Our hope is that this will be something which has life-long positive consequences, by supporting the city’s children to achieve their full potential and reducing the inequalities caused by living in poverty”.
Dr Dan Roper, Chair of NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Deputy Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board added:
“I’m pleased to see that more pupils across Hull are enjoying a nutritionally balanced school meal each day. Encouraging children to make healthy food choices, and achieve lifelong good eating habits, is critical in improving health and wellbeing across the city.”