THREE schools in Portsmouth are to get thousands of pounds so they can better cope with the need to provide free school meals.
The government introduced the meals policy in September for infants schools.
But many schools have found that they don’t have enough space, or that other parts of the day are being interrupted to make room for meals.
Now College Park Infants in North End has been awarded £250,000 to install a new kitchen and extend the dining hall area, with Portsmouth City Council funding an additional £90,000.
Headteacher Debbie Anderson said: ‘Being able to have a kitchen on our own school site will help us to efficiently provide free quality meals to those families who want to take them up for their children. It will make a real difference to our lunchtimes.’
Devonshire Infants in Southsea was awarded £250,000 with an additional £30,000 from the council to build an extension to create a larger dining hall.
Headteacher Jackie Collins said: ‘We’re delighted that the local authority was successful in securing this funding from the government.
‘It will enable us to provide an additional dining area to accommodate the increased number of children who are taking advantage of free school meals.’
And Mayfield School in North End, which opened its infant school in September, has been awarded £90,000 for refurbishments to create a servery and dining space.
Headteacher David Jeapes said: ‘We’re pleased to have secured this grant and thank officers at the council for their support.
‘This funding will be used to further enhance our facilities so every child in our infant section can enjoy a hot high quality meal every day.’
Neill Young, cabinet member for children and education at the council said: ‘Regular meals and eating a healthy balanced diet is fundamental to the development of children’s health and wellbeing and healthy pupils are more likely to be better learners and to get more from their school day.
‘Lunchtime and the dining environment are important and being able to provide a hot, free school meal to our infant children is beneficial.
‘We’re really pleased to have been awarded grants to enable three of our schools to improve the dining experience for their young pupils.’