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Tower Hamlets named best for school meals service

Children in Tower Hamlets are enjoying the best school meals service in Britain. Catering staff in the area, who serve up meals for a staggering 24,000 children everyday, have been named catering service of the year in the industries biggest awards.

Children in school lunch room
Children in Tower Hamlets are enjoying the best school meals service in Britain. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Tower Hamlets Council's Contract Services staff won the title at the annual Lead Association for Education Catering (LACA) Awards.

National

Free school meals for infant school children: Your views

Following the Government's announcement that every child at infant school in England will receive a free school meal from next September, ITV News viewers have been giving their views on social media:

All children should get free school dinners until they are 18 unless the parents opt out.

Good nutrition, table manners, and the social side of eating a meal together is missed in many households these days and should be part of education, not a profit making business.

– Claire Thirlwell McGuire

Why do we want kids fed at school? The meals are of poor quality, nutritionally poor and another step to the state taking over from parents.

– Brian Baillie

I would love to see all school children get a good balanced meal. It's been proven that it helps with the learning process (amongst other things).

And if it's given to all children then there is no distinction between those who can afford it and those who can't.

– Pamela Hardy

Read: Government to spend £600m on free school meal plan

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National

Clegg and wife visit a school for meals announcement

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and his wife Miriam Gonzalez Durantez took a break from the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow to visit a primary school ahead of the Government announcement on free school meals today.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and his wife took a break from the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow to visit a primary school Credit: PA Wire

The Lib Dem leader announced a new £600 million scheme giving all infant school children in England a free school meal from September 2014.

The measure is aimed at helping financially-stretched families but will also have education and health benefits, Mr Clegg said.

The Government's plan to give every child at infant school in England a free meal will cost approximately £600 million. Credit: PA Wire

Free school meals after successful London pilot

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced that all four-to-seven-year-olds will be given free school meals.

The Coalition will fund schools in England to provide every infant school child with a hot meal at lunchtime
The Coalition will fund schools in England to provide every infant school child with a hot meal at lunchtime Credit: Press Association

From next September families will save around £400 pounds per child after a project pioneered in London.

National

Clegg: 'First step on way to free school meals for all'

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the new policy giving all infant school children a free school meal in England was the first step in fulfilling his ambition to provide free school meals to all primary school children.

Mr Clegg said: "For the Liberal Democrats, this is a first step: my ambition is to provide free school meals for all primary school children. Another reason we want to get into Government again next time round."

The Deputy Prime Minister said free school meals would help "give every child the chance in life they deserve."

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Thousands of children are going hungry at school

A report has revealed thousands of children are going hungry at school Credit: ITV London

New evidence of children in London going hungry has prompted a renewed push for more free school meals. A report by the Children's Society found 3 out of 4 teachers have witnessed students with no lunch, and no means to pay for one.

Thousands of school children are going hungry because they cannot afford lunch but are not entitled to free meals.

Conisborough College in south London has had to use money from the school budget to feed pupils.

Dinner lady Maggie Connolly says she can see how much parents are struggling and many children become hungry at school:

Dinner-lady Maggiee Connolly says the school will not allow children to go hungry Credit: ITV London

"As a school we saw that need, we put together packed lunches so that they have something to eat, even though they're not entitled to the free school meals, we won't see any child go without a meal."

Schoolchildren say some children do not claim free meals as they feel embarrassed Credit: ITV London

That principle is leading many teachers to feed their class, a survey by The Children's Society found 72% knew of pupils going without lunch.

Matthew Reed from the Children's Society says the aim is when the new benefits system is launched next year each no child will go hungry:

Matthew Reed from The Children's Society hopes the new benefits system will ensure every child has a meal Credit: ITV London

"We want to make sure when the new benefit system comes in, in 2013, the Universal Credit system, that every child from a low-income family have access to a free school meal, that would make a huge difference to their lives."

However there are other barriers, around 1/3 of children entitled to free school-meals do not ask for them, with pupils stating embarrassment or fear of bullying as one of the reasons for not claiming them.

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