The new primary school year is about to start, which – along with a shiny new pencil case – also sees the start of free school lunches for even more little ones
It’s a Government initiative for all children between the ages of four and seven years in state-funded schools, and could save parents up to £400 each year, according to charity Children’s Food Trust.
Before now, free lunches were generally only available to families who met certain income-based criteria.
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The meals are based on already existing Department of Education guidelines for lunches, which include things like offering at least two portions of fruit and veg/salad a day, oily fish at least once every three weeks, no extra salt and a limit on anything deep fried.
The meals are based on already existing Department of Education guidelines for lunches, which include things like offering at least two portions of fruit and veg/salad a day
There are also rules around nutrient content to make sure kids get a balanced, healthy diet as much as possible.
That said, you don’t have to take up the free meal option. School policies vary around packed lunches, but if you do put together lunch for your child, try and hit as many health points as possible – only 1 per cent of the ones we make are up to scratch, according to the Children’s Food Trust.
READ: PACKED LUNCH IDEAS FOR TODDLERS AND PRE-SCHOOLERS
‘The most important thing is balance, so aiming for a portion of fruit and veg or salad – says, some berries and carrot sticks,’ says nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed.
‘Include a portion of dairy like a small plain yoghurt, a protein-rich element such as beans/houmous or chicken, and starchy food such as crackers or bread sticks. Try to avoid anything highly processed or high in sugar or salt. Meanwhile, water or milk are the best drinks – steer clear of sugary ones.’
Let us know what your child likes on the comments board below.