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School meals in Hampshire are at their highest level for over a decade, with primary school pupils having enjoyed over six million dinners in the last year alone.
New figures show 6.2million primary pupils tucked into a healthy school lunch in 2010. The figure is not only the highest percentage take up than at any time since 1997 but is also greater than the south east England regional average. In secondary schools meanwhile, the equivalent to 1.7million meals were served to pupils, representing an increase of almost 5% over the last two years.
As part of efforts to ensure that pupils across the county tuck into delicious, nutritionally balanced and healthy meals at lunchtime, HC3S provides meals for over 440 primary and special schools plus 30 secondary schools across the county using an array of ingredients from 26 local suppliers. Throughout the year, pupils can select a main meal, a side helping of vegetables and salad and a dessert, which combine to make up a third of the recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals for a child.
For five consecutive years, HC3S has also been recognised for keeping school meals free from artificial colourings and preservatives. Meanwhile, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) which promotes the use of fish and seafood from sustainable stocks has also recognised a number of Hampshire's fish dishes.
Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Ken Thornber said:
"HC3S works closely with schools, pupils and parents to devise menus that are healthy, taste good and are enjoyed by pupils and this latest increase in meal uptake is testimony to their efforts.
"As well as supporting healthy eating, Hampshire's school meals are also playing an important role in supporting the local economy with a variety of ingredients sourced from local producers. This is particularly important during the current economic climate and also reduces the number of food miles travelled from field to fork."
The price of a school meal for 2011/12 has been frozen and will be £2.00 for a third consecutive year.
Parents and pupils can rate the meals and add their comments via special feedback pages - go to: www.myschoollunch.co.uk/hampshire/parents/menu_vote