SCHOOL meals are a vital part of children’s diets and as many families as possible should be encouraged to have their child enjoy a hot, nutritious and balanced dinner every school day.
It seems, though, that the take-up for free school dinners in Bradford is much reduced when compared to other, similar-sized districts around the country.
Why this should be is not clear but it may well be that some families feel there is some kind of stigma attached to applying for free meals and would rather either try to pay their way themselves or give their children cheaper packed lunches.
We have all been feeling the pinch in recent years, and while there should be no shame at all in taking up free school meals if eligible, it can be understandable that some people fail to do so out of a slightly misguided sense of pride.
Bradford Council is moving towards a process of auto-registration which will mean that eligible families will automatically be enrolled in the free school meals service, meaning there will be no need to formally apply for the benefit. But that is not yet in place, so any families who are eligible should do the right thing and apply.
Packed lunches might seem an easy option, but they rarely contain food which is as good for a child as that available from the school kitchens and there can be a tendency to cave in to pester power and include sugary treats and drinks.
Children who have a good diet are more alert and therefore better-performing in lessons so using the free service has a double benefit.