BOLTON’S school dinners will still be the cheapest in the country after council bosses froze prices for another year.
The cost will remain at £1.25, first introduced in 2011, for primary school children compared to the regional average of £2.05.
Cllr Nick Peel, Bolton Council’s executive cabinet member for environmental services, said: “I’m very pleased we are continuing to offer hot, healthy school meals at a discounted price for another year.
“It means we can carry on helping families to save a bit extra as well providing children good quality, tasty and nutritious meals.
“Ever since we started the discounted meal promot-ions we’ve seen increases year on year in the take up of school dinners.
“There are lots of benefits for pupils in having a school meal and we’re proud to continue this excellent initiative.”
From September all reception, year one and year two children will enjoy free school meals in a Government initiative.
In Bolton, nursery and junior pupils will benefit from the £1.25 discount.
School meals promotions, which were first introduced in 2009, have led to more than 2,700 additional pupils tucking in to a school meal each school day – with 65 per cent of children in the borough having a school dinner compared to 50 per cent of youngsters nationally.
To celebrate, Cllr Peel joined children at Tonge Moor Primary for a school dinner on the first day of the new meals promotion.
Headteacher Anne Read said: ”Children at Tonge Moor love eating their midday meal cooked on site by the kitchen staff.
“The menus run for a three-week period before being repeated.
“Having a hot meal is really good at any point in the year and sets you up for the afternoon.
“Ninety three mums joined us for a special lunch last Friday in celebration of Mother's Day.
“In Bolton we are fortunate that the cost has been kept low.
“Fresh fruit is available every day, although I’m particularly disappointed if I realise that I have missed apple pie.”
School menus in Bolton meet strict nutritional regulations and reflect different tastes and cultures.
Dishes include fruity chicken curry, beef and vegetable pie, chicken goujons and penne pasta.
There is a focus on fruit and vegetables and ingredients are sourced ethically, such as free range eggs and Fairtrade products.
Year four pupil at Tonge Moor Sameer Ahmed said: “School meals are really healthy and tasty.
“For me, the best is cheese whirl, which is really cheesy.
“The fruit makes the counter look really colourful but I love the red grapes most.
“There is always plenty of choice and the people who are on packed lunches always want to pinch my food.”
Classmate Millie Grogan added: “Our cooks are really friendly and they serve scrumptiously healthy food.
“My favourite meal is Italian cheese pasta — they sprinkle cheese all over — it is divine. I like water melon, which is really juicy.”