PARENTS have been given a taste of what their children will be eating for lunch from September.

They were invited to swap their packed lunches for school dinners at a taste test at Astley's St Stephen’s Primary School as Wigan Council gets ready to launch the free school meals programme.

As of September, all reception, year one and year two children will be eligible to receive free school meals as part of the government's new initiative for Universal Infant Free School Meals.

Aziz-Young, aged 32, from Atherton, brought her four-year-old son, Ben Aziz-Young, along to the school meal taster day.

“I didn’t know much about free school meals before, we had been sent a taster menu but until you get to see the full menu you don’t realise how diverse it is,” she said.

“There’s a variety of food available and school dinners have certainly come a long way since I was at school. The food is healthy and tasty and best of all, free.

“Now I have seen what the school can offer him and knowing it won’t cost me a penny, I will certainly be considering school dinners for my child.”

Trials of the universal meals programme, worth £600m nationally, found that free school meals helped increase concentration levels and improved attainment.

Clr Joanne Platt, cabinet member for children and families, said: “We’re urging parents to apply for free school meals even if their child is already eligible as this is linked to Pupil Premium funding – a pot of money the Government has agreed to reimburse schools.

“For each child signed up, £1300 per annum will be reinvested in the school and will go towards schools trips, equipment and so on.”

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