Free school meals launched for Tower Hamlet’s youngest children

Free school dinners have been launched today across Tower Hamlets for the borough’s youngest schoolchildren.

Tower Hamlets Council has now become one of the few local authorities to take the step of funding meals for all Reception and Year 1 pupils, to ensure they receive at least one hot and nutritious meal a day.

In March the council agreed the £2.76 million investment, which will fund the scheme for the next two academic years.

The Free School Meals scheme was launched at Bygrove Primary School in Poplar by Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman. He said: “Nearly 4,000 children will benefit from this initiative, which is vital in helping to make sure our young people eat healthy meals.

“I am determined to do all I can to improve educational achievement and opportunities for young people in Tower Hamlets and we know that a healthy lunch is one of the keys to children learning better.”

The move will benefit 3,943 children over two years at 74 schools.

It means the council is one of a handful of local authorities leading the way in offering free meals for primary school youngsters.

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Since Tower Hamlets Council announced its plans in March, the idea has become a key part of the Government’s education policy.

In July a report commissioned by Education Secretary Michael Gove, entitled the School Food Plan, called for all primary pupils to be provided with free school meals, saying there was a clear link between good nutrition and strong academic performance.

The man tasked with rolling out the report’s actions is Myles Bremner, who has left his position as chief executive of national food growing charity Organic Garden to take on the role.

He said: “The School Food Plan recommended that Government should embark upon a rollout of free school meals for primary schools. We are delighted that boroughs including Tower Hamlets are leading the way in funding this important provision.

“There is robust evidence to show that having a school meal has a significant impact on children’s attainment and children’s health.”