SCHOOLS across the region will now be able to compete with fast food shops with special meal deals to boost uptake of school dinners – and tackle obesity.
Under new powers, schools will be able to offer price promotions on meals to a particular group of pupils. This was previously forbidden by laws stating all pupils had to pay the same price for every item.
In Portsmouth, just 33 per cent of primary pupils and 36 per cent of secondary pupils eat school meals compared with an England averages of 44 per cent and 38 per cent respectively.
The same figures for Hampshire are 36 per cent and 29 per cent.
Colin Harris, head of Warren Park Primary in Leigh Park, said he welcomed the greater flexibility.
He decided to employ in-house cooks two years ago to ensure he was not restricted on pricing or quality – and now more than half of pupils eat school meals costing £1.80 and 90 children on average take advantage of free breakfast every day.
Mr Harris said: ‘We decided to take charge of our own meals because we wanted to ensure no children were priced out.
‘While I appreciate the government supports children whose families are on low incomes, I worry about pupils on the edge of being eligible for free school meals.’