Parents of children in Reception, Year 1 & 2 across the Burnham-On-Sea area have this week been urged to register their children if they wish to take up the offer of free school meals from this autumn.

A good lunch makes a big difference to children’s health, development and ability to learn, and every infant child will be eligible for a free school meal from this September as part of a Government initiative.

At the beginning of next week, parents with infant children will receive a leaflet and registration form from their child’s school. The form should be completed for their children to receive a meal in September.

Somerset County Council, working in partnership with local schools, has put in place enough capacity to ensure that every school has access to a meal service for its pupils by September.

Cllr Frances Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “Free school meals should help a family save up to £437 per year per child and they will provide quality, healthy food for children every day. They will help children develop good eating habits, are fun and will help to combat the rising problem of childhood obesity.”

“The Government gave each school responsibility for delivering this but we recognised the size of the challenge and offered to provide a county-wide solution because this is so important.”

So that each school can be sure of having enough meals on the first day of the autumn term, parents need to confirm they will be taking up the free school meal offer by returning their registration form by the end of this term. Details vary between schools, but later applications that arrive at schools through the summer holidays will be processed, but it will take a few days.

Julia Ridge, who is helping co-ordinate free school meals in the Burnham-On-Sea area, said: !It’s been challenging – only 30% of our schools have kitchens. But we have a clear strategy in place that makes the best use of grants from the Government supplemented by County Council funds and contributions from schools.”

“Current suppliers and partners are being used to make sure enough meals are available. The Council is also building a strategically placed central production kitchen and helping to complete school kitchens around the County.”

If parents have any queries they must speak to the child’s school or call the council’s helpline on 0845 345 9122.