The Minister for Children and Education, Deputy Inna Gardiner, has announced plans to roll out school meals to a further three schools from September 2023, and to all primary schools by September 2024
Schools are now being prioritised for the programme based on the level of need in the school, as well as the time needed to construct a servery, and to ensure that staff are available and trained to serve hot meals. This means that, from September 2023, school meals will also be available at Springfield, Grands Vaux and Plat Douet.
In 2019, a pilot of hot school meals was launched in partnership with local charity, Caring Cooks.
Meals are currently served in five schools – Janvrin, St Luke’s, Samarés St Peter and St Martin, where parents pay £2.50 for a hot nutritious main meal and a dessert. Some children are also eligible for free meals.
The school meal programme was designed to support parents who may struggle to provide packed lunches that meet nutritional guidelines; to support children’s health and wellbeing; and to reduce their risks of becoming obese or developing certain illness.
Work is ongoing to roll out hot meals to all primary schools, with a further five schools expected to be added in April 2024, and all Government primary schools by September 2024. This work is being supported by an additional £1.6 million in funding, as agreed in the Government Plan 2023-2026.
Assistant Minister for Children and Education, Connétable Richard Vibert, said: “As a Ministerial team, we have always been very open about the challenge that we face in making sure that all primary school children can access a hot school meal.
“To achieve this ambition, we will need to increase the number of meals we produce tenfold. We’ll need to recruit and train more staff. We also need to make sure each school has the facilities it needs.
“But meeting this challenge will have huge benefits. We know that more and more families are struggling to provide healthy lunchbox meals on a regular basis. We also know that children benefit throughout their life when they have regular access to nutritious food: they’re better able to learn and develop and are more likely to have better health throughout their life.
“There is still a huge amount of work to do between today’s update and achieving the ambition of having hot school meals available to all children. We have – and will continue to – work with Caring Cooks and colleagues across Government to provide this much needed service. As we continue work on this project, we will provide regular updates.”
Yvonne Corbin of Caring Cooks (pictured), said: “We have worked closely with the Government of Jersey since the pilot was launched in 2019 to provide more healthy food options to more children.
“As a charity, we’re so proud of the impact that we have already made, and the positive feedback we’ve had from families. We look forward to working together in the future to provide this much needed service.”