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Council helps ensure those on free school meals don’t miss out

Catering staff at Stokes Wood primary school

CHILDREN in Leicester who would normally be entitled to a free school lunch are still being offered a free meal every day – even though most of them are currently not at school.

The city council’s catering division, City Catering, is preparing food parcels and packed lunches, which families can pick up from their child’s school.

Each food parcel contains recipe cards and the ingredients needed to prepare five nutritious meals, including school favourites such as tuna pasta bake and tasty leek and potato frittata. Fresh fruit is also included in the weekly parcel, together with homemade biscuits for a sweet treat.

The packed lunch, which some schools are offering each day, comprises a ham or cheese sandwich and a piece of fruit.

At schools in Leicester where City Catering provides the food service, around 550 families are taking up the offer each week – including more than 50 families with children at Stokes Wood Primary School.

Jane Gadsby, headteacher of Stokes Wood Primary School, said: “Parents seem very happy with the contents of the food parcel and the fact it means only one trip out a week.

“We can also send homework with the food parcel, for children who cannot access online activities, and the regular contact helps us keep in touch with families who may need any wider support.”

Staff at the school have set up a system that allows people to collect their food parcels, while observing social distancing rules.

Floor markings ensure that parents stay two metres apart, a one-way system reduces the chances of contact, and allocated time slots between 11.30am and 2.30pm mean that people don’t all arrive at once and can safely collect their parcels.

Feedback from parents has so far been positive, with people appreciating both the variety of food in the parcel – and the easy-to-follow recipes.

Jane Faulks from City Catering said: “We’re careful to ensure that the parcels contain items that are of nutritional value and that the meals are easy to prepare for the children to enjoy.”

City Catering – which provides meals to 49 schools and academies in Leicester – is also continuing to provide hot meals to children who are still attending school each day.

Assistant city mayor for education Cllr Elly Cutkelvin said: “We’re working with schools and our catering team to make sure that children who are eligible for a free meal continue to get food every day – whether it’s a hot meal for children who are still at school, a packed lunch, or a parcel of food containing enough ingredients for five days of meals.

“Any family that’s struggling financially as a result of the coronavirus outbreak may not realise that they could be eligible for free school meals – and may not know where to go for help.

“If your financial situation has changed, and you need extra support for your family, please go to our website, where you’ll find lots of information about free school meals and how to apply.”

Information about free school meals for eligible families is available on the council's family information webpages. A temporary extension of eligibility criteria by the Department for Education means that more families will be able to apply for free school meals during the coronavirus pandemic.

Anyone who needs help with food, or is struggling with any other issues because of the coronavirus crisis, can contact the city council via its dedicated support line. Email the council on, if you or someone you know needs help.




Picture caption: Sam Winzar from City Catering with some of the food parcels at Stokes Wood Primary School in Leicester