SCHOOL kitchens in Bolton’s primary schools are ready and equipped to serve up free meals for infant school children.

Figures have revealed that one in three kitchens nationally will have to improve their facilities, with some requiring a complete refurbishment — with more than 1,700 school not even having a kitchen — to provide all infants with a free meal from September.

But Bolton Council says it is ahead of the game thanks to its school meals promotion, which has included free meals for primary school children and now cost just £1.25.

The promotions started in 2008 offering new starters free meals. Now all children in primary school pay the discounted rate of £1.25 for a school dinner compared to the regional average of £2.05.

A council spokesman said: “Our school kitchens are in a good position to serve the extra meals which is mainly due to the high take-up we already have thanks to our meal promotions.

“The government’s free school meals initiative does not apply to nursery and junior pupils.

“However, as recently announced, they can still tuck into school meals for a discounted £1.25. We invested in improved kitchens and facilities in order to cope with one of the country’s highest uptake of school meals thanks to our discounted rate.”

The £1.25 school meals promotion is being funded by public health money to keep healthy nutritional meals affordable for young children.

Under the promotions more than 2,700 additional pupils have tucked 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.

The department for education says that free school lunches for all infant children would save parents money, improve pupils’ education and ensure more children eat a healthy and nutritious meal at least once a day.