Cheapest in the country: Bolton Council make stand to keep healthy £1.25 primary school dinners

By Dominic Claeys-Jackson

Health and budget-conscious primary schoolchildren in Bolton will continue to benefit from the cheapest school meals in the country, council bosses have announced.

Pupils have enjoyed £1.25 school dinners since September 2011 – a price 73p below the national average and 75p below the North West average.

And with the promotion initially set to conclude next month, Bolton Council has now extended the discount until the end of March 2013.

Leader of Bolton Council, Councillor Cliff Morris, said: “We want to continue to help parents afford a healthy lunch in this tough financial climate.

“We are also trying to make a difference to the long term health of our young people.

“Our school lunches are varied, tasty and include some traditional family favourites.”

Bolton Council also announced the start of their winter menu, featuring cut-price dishes such as roast beef dinners, wholemeal breaded cod and Italian lasagne.

School dinner uptake has increased by 500,000 since 2009, when authorities stepped up their cost-cutting drive.

Free meals were introduced for reception classes in September 2008 – a fee bumped up to £1 in summer 2009.

This was widened to accommodate all primary school children four months later, with a slight charge increase to £1.25 in September 2011.

As a result, 2.9million dinners have been served in Bolton primary schools this year, up from 2.4million in 2009.

Such a figure means that Bolton’s schools are now serving approximately 3,700 more meals every day than three years ago.

Bolton’s school meals service has been shortlisted for Best Performer at the Association for Public Sector Excellence (APSE) awards, which take place on December 7.

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