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Don't miss out on classy cuisine!

Byline: SAM WEBB

FAMILIES in Coventry could be missing out on hundreds of pounds worth of free school meals because they are not checking if they are entitled to them.

That's the warning from councillors, who want to highlight the city's school meals service as part of national School Meals Week this week.

They say parents and guardians entitled to free dinners for their youngsters could be missing out on savings of up to pounds 400 a year.

Coventry City Council City Services, which runs the school meals service, is urging people to find out if they are eligible for free school meals.

Parents may be losing out on pounds 267 for each primary school child and pounds 374 for each secondary pupil for the 191 school days in each school year.

Cllr Phil Townshend, cabinet member for city services, said: "School meals make an important contribution to children's general health and nutrition.

"Please do check the eligibility criteria to see if your children are entitled to free school meals and then register them."

Parents and guardians who are in receipt of Income Support, Income Based Job Seekers Allowance and Child Tax Credit, who earn less than pounds 13,230 per year, are entitled to free school meals. People who fall under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 are also eligible.

Cllr Townshend added: "Some 10,000 primary school pupils have a school meal each day. We very much hope that your child will stay for lunch and have an enjoyable and satisfying lunchtime experience."

And deputy council leader Cllr George Duggins, cabinet member for education services, added: "Coventry City Council works to make sure every pupil in the city has the opportunity of a free school meal should they be entitled.

"Parents or guardians could be turning down hundreds of pounds worth of help each year simply by not checking if they are eligible."

Parents can check their child's entitlement to free school meals by phoning the school benefits office on 024 7683 1552 or 024 7683 1555.

sam.webb@mrn.co.uk

Chace Primary School pupils deliver their verdicts

Do you like school dinners?: Yes, they're better than my mum's cooking!

Favourite school dinner: Chips and sausages.

Favourite pudding: Vanilla ice cream.

Least favourite school dinner: Nothing!

What would you like to see more of in the canteen?: Pasta bake

Michael Wayar, eight.

Do you like school dinners?: They taste really good. I always have seconds.

Favourite school dinner: Pizza

Favourite pudding: Cake and custard

Least favourite school dinner: Curry

What would you like to see more of in the canteen?: Spaghetti Bolognese and my mum's scrambled eggs on toast.

Tom McIlroy,10.

Do you like school dinners?: Yes, they're tasty

Favourite school dinner: Curry

Favourite pudding: Chocolate cake

Least favourite school dinner: Pizza

What would you like to see more of in the canteen?: Sunday roasts

Brogan Taylor, nine.

Do you like school dinners?: Yes, there is a lot of choice

Favourite school dinner: Sausages and chips

Favourite pudding: Shortbread

Least favourite school dinner: Vegetables

What would you like to see more of in the canteen?: Savoy cabbage

Penny Harrison, 10.

Do you like school dinners?: Yes, you get the best puddings!

Favourite school dinner: Sunday dinners

Favourite pudding: Custard and cake

Least favourite school dinner: Vegetables

What would you like to see more of in the canteen?: Fish fingers

Zoe Davis, eight.

Do you like school dinners?: Yes, because of chips and beans!

Favourite school dinner: Spaghetti and sausages

Favourite pudding: Yoghurt

Least favourite school dinner: Peas

What would you like to see more of in the canteen?: Spaghetti Bolognese

Corey Jay-Randale, seven.

Head's a firm fan of the roast!

SCHOOL meals at Southfields Primary School are so appetising, even the head can't resist the roast!

Janet Price said: "We have a really high uptake of school meals and promote them when the children are admitted.

"We also make sure parents are aware of the free school meals programme."

The School Council, canteen staff and teaching staff meet up regularly to discuss the nutritional value of school meals, while making sure the menu appeals to the pupils at the school in East Street, Hillfields.

Mrs Price added: "My favourite school meal is the roast dinner - it's very nice."

Lumpy custard a thing of the past

Schools first started giving free school meals after the 1906 Education Act was passed. In 1921, this was extended to free milk.

In 1937, a report called Food, Health and Income, published by John Boyd Orr, revealed that there was a link between low income, malnutrition and underachievement in schools.

Following the 1945 general election, new Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, appointed Ellen Wilkinson as Minister of Education, the first woman in British history to hold the post. She campaigned for the wider introduction of free school meals for low income families.

But the old-fashioned idea of school dinners as lumpy custard and cold gravy couldn't be further from the truth now. The Evening Telegraph compared sample menus from the 1950s and the city services' new Treasure Island menu that today's youngsters can choose from.

1950s

Cold Meat, Potato and Beetroot

Spam Fritters

Liver with Cabbage

Breadcrumbed Fish

Steak and Kidney Pie

XXX

Semolina with a dollop of Jam

Spotted Dick

Manchester Tart

XXX

Water

TODAY

Golden Chicken Crocodile

Fish &Tomato Sauce Seashells

Tuna & Cucumber Sandwich

Battered Pork Pieces

Vegetarian Footprint

Chicken Curry

Seasonal Green Salad

XXX

Selection of Fresh Fruit

Melon Jewels & Ice Cream

Assorted Fruit Yoghurt

XXX

Chilled Milk

CAPTION(S):

HEALTHY MENU: City council cabinet member for education Cllr George Duggins and transport and benefits manager Storm Morgan join pupils (clockwise, from front, left) Shane Watt, Daniel Watt, Azra Foric, Vinolia Keyne, Shannon Bayliss and Kane Bayliss for a typical school meal. Picture: RICHARD NELMES
COPYRIGHT 2003 Coventry Newpapers
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Sep 18, 2003
Words:966
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