SCHOOLS and the county council in North Yorkshire have been carrying out work over the summer months to ensure free meals are given to all children aged seven and under at the start of the new school year.

North Yorkshire has the largest number of small primary schools of any authority in the country; nevertheless the authority believes all schools will be able to serve a hot two-course meal to all young children at the start of term next week.

The county council’s school meals service, North Yorkshire County Caterers, has spent more than £660,000 from its own reserves to ensure that it has enough equipment in place - including extra cutlery, hot trolleys, ovens and additional refrigeration - to deliver a service which meets the expected demand of the Government’s universal free school meals initiative.

The authority has received £1,269,049 and a further £ 184,466 for Voluntary Aided schools in capital funding from Government for 2014/15 to assist with the implementation of this new policy.