Youngsters at one of Huddersfield’s smallest schools can’t wait for lunchtime.
When the dinner bell sounds, pupils at Holme Junior and Infant School make a bee-line for the tiny dining room and a new treat – freshly-made school dinners.
For Holme is the last school in Kirklees to get its own school kitchen. Now meals are freshly prepared each day by kitchen supervisor Pat Walker.
The new facility is an open-plan design, so children can see their meal being prepared and learn about cooking.
It is the first time in the 133-year history of Holme village school that dinners have been prepared on the premises.
Previously meals were transported in from Upperthong Junior and Infants. And while the cooking was fine, the vegetables were “soggy” by the time they arrived, according to the youngsters.
The new kitchen has led to a massive uptake in school dinners, with 30 of the 34 pupils signing up for them – a total of 88%, compared with 56% last term.
Kirklees Catering Services (KCS) is now one of a handful of local authorities nationally with 100% on-site kitchens.
The council provides over 23,000 school meals a day, with an average of 54% pupil uptake, one of the highest percentages in the country.
KCS’s Hayley Wilson said: “We recognise that good food is vital to children’s health and academic achievement and that a balanced meal prepared with fresh ingredients at lunchtime supports learning in schools, as well as the children’s all round health and well being.”
Yesterday the Holme youngsters were enthusiastically tucking into either breaded fish or veggie burgers – they have a choice of two meals – with chips, sweetcorn and salad.
One six-year-old boy summed up the mood: “It’s good, better than before.”
Head teacher Anne Swain added: “I’m delighted with the uptake of our school lunches and the family atmosphere in the hall as children enjoy a healthy meal together.
“We are pleased to see the food being prepared in school and are looking forward to eating vegetables we have grown ourselves and learning cooking skills with Mrs Walker”.