From September 2014, all infant children became eligible for a free school lunch under the government’s Universal Infant Free School Meals program aimed at promoting healthy eating choices amongst our youngest learners.
This means that under this new legislation, every child within Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 will not have to pay for their daily meals in school, charges will be applied once they reach the junior phase, Year 3 and beyond.
‘The dinners are very tasty, my favourite thing is Steve cooking them.’ Oliver, age 4.
Our meals in school are prepared fresh everyday by school chef Steve Fernyhough. Steve brings with him a wealth of expertise from the commercial sector and also a passion for healthy choices for young children. Steve realises just how vital it is for all children to develop healthy eating habits from a very early age and strives to create menus which reflect both our children’s preferences as well as introducing new tastes and textures.
‘My favourite thing is everything, our lunches are very yummy. We have something different everyday but I really love the roast dinners.’ Emily, age 6.
As a team we appreciate that the road to becoming a ‘good eater’ can sometimes be difficult and not all children develop the same palette at the same time. Our staff are on hand every lunchtime to encourage and monitor your child’s experience noting early on if a child has difficulty trying new foods. If your child was to have any difficulty during lunchtime either with routine or food choices, the team will work with you to ensure that they feel confident to try new foods within a supportive environment modifying the menu if required.
Eating together at school is also an important social activity as we appreciate not all families have the time to sit together every day and share a mealtime uninterrupted. Lunchtimes at school may be spent in house groups or as a class depending on the weekly timetable and all learners are encouraged to sit with different children each day so as to develop new friendships. Our staff may eat with the children in order to model appropriate behaviours, supporting the correct use of cutlery and encouraging conversation.
‘My favourite meal is always today’s lunch!’ Isaac, age 5.
Each year, all parents of ‘New Starters’ will be invited in to school to sample a school lunch and share in the lunchtime experience with their child. This is an important part of the settling in process as it helps parents understand the level of independence required from even our youngest learners from hygiene standards to getting together their own utensils and choosing their own meal. At Christmas time, the school invites all families to join them for a unique ‘School Christmas Dinner’, a fun event for families to begin the Christmas festivities and a time for Steve to really show just how good he is catering for over 100 guests last year.
‘I just love the food.’ Poppy, age 4.
Statutory Entitlement to Free School Meals.
The introduction of Universal Infant Free School Meals does not take away the statutory entitlement of some children to a free school meal throughout their school career which they may be eligible for due to the receipt of certain family benefits and support. This is not the same as UIFSM and can help to ensure funding beyond the infant phase into Year 3. If eligible, the Local Authority will be able to confirm whether the school is able to claim pupil premium funding for a child which can be used to support an individual during their time in school. Parents can complete the Cheshire West and Chester (CWAC) Local Authority application form below and return to the school or CWAC if they think they may be eligible for additional support.