Tasty treat for school’s VIP visitors - media opportunity

Children at one Leeds primary school are getting ready for some local VIP lunch guests next week, when they host the leader and deputy leaders of Leeds City Council.

The senior councillors are visiting St Nicholas’ Catholic Primary school in Oakwood to see for themselves how the council’s preparations for universal free school meals have been completed.

The council’s catering service, Catering Leeds, has helped 190 primary schools across the city get ready for all of the extra school meals they will need to prepare and serve as part of the new national scheme. The introduction of universal free school meals which will see all state-educated children in foundation, year one and year two, entitled to a free lunch every day, will mean Catering Leeds must prepare an extra 10,000 meals every day, on top of the 35,000 they already produce .

Media opportunity:

When: Tuesday 2 September at 12.15pm

Where: St. Nicholas’ Catholic Primary School, Oakwood Lane, LS9 6QY

Members of the media are invited to join the councillors and pupils when they try their first free school meal as part of the universal free school meal programme. Interviews and photography will be available.

Please contact Emma Whittell at Leeds City Council press office if you wish to attend, on 0113 2474713

During the visit, council leader Councillor Keith Wakefield, and deputy leaders Cllr Peter Gruen and Cllr Judith Blake, will be joined by senior officers to see newly installed cooking and service equipment, meet newly recruited and trained staff, and try a school dinner alongside pupils.

Councillor Judith Blake, deputy leader of Leeds City Council and executive member responsible for children and families said:

“A good quality, nutritious and tasty school dinner, is a key element to a child’s academic success, which is why it is so important that those children who are eligible for a free school meal, take up their entitlement.

“Schools across Leeds have been working closely with the catering service to ensure that they are ready for the new school year, and have come up with some innovative ways to serve the all the extra meals for the 44,000 children who are now eligible for a free lunch.

“For those families who have children who are older than six, I would encourage them to check if they are also eligible for free school meals, as it could save them £10 a week for each child.”

Councillor Peter Gruen, executive member responsible for neighbourhoods, planning and personnel, said:

“The team at Catering Leeds have done a fantastic job making sure all the schools they cater for are ready for all the extra school dinners needed from September. They have really risen to the challenge, given the timescales and budget pressures they were under.

“For many children this will be the first time they have tried a school meal and I’m sure they will be delighted with the tasty food on offer, and their parents can be confident that they are eating a healthy and nutritious meal in a friendly, comfortable environment.”

Notes to editors:

As part of the new universal free school meal offer, an extra approximately 44,000 primary school children in Leeds will be entitled to a free school meal, however many families are still not taking up the offer.

Prior to the introduction of the new scheme, in 2012-2013, 13,835 primary school children in Leeds children were entitled to a free school lunch, but 3720 were not taking advantage of the healthy, daily meal.

Catering Leeds is committed to providing school lunches that are tasty and healthy, as well as making lunchtime comfortable and fun for everyone, but everyday children and young people across Leeds are still missing out on their free school meal.


For media enquiries, please contact:

Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713

Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk