WHERE Blackpool leads others are set to follow after the launch of the town’s free breakfast scheme.
Up to 12,000 primary schoolchildren are now set to receive free breakfasts as part of a £700,000 three-month pilot scheme officially launched at Devonshire Road Primary School yesterday.
Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said: “People from all over the country have contacted me including London boroughs who also have a vision of free school meals. Attendance figures will show us if more children are attending school, while in the longer term we will be able to measure if there has been an improvement in attainment.
“Blackpool Council spends £400m a year, so the full year costs of this scheme of £2m are a fraction of that budget.”
The council is also hoping to attract sponsorship to bring the cost down, with talks already being held with cereal giant Kelloggs.
Meanwhile, Layton-based company Trevor’s Warehouses is being used to supply more than half the breakfast items including fruit juice, yoghurt drink and cereal bars.
Managing director Gary Hitchen said: “It has secured jobs with us and it is great to be involved in this initiative.
“We only found out about the scheme in mid-December so we had to get supplies in over Christmas but we have managed it.”
The scheme is the first of its kind by a local authority in England. Devonshire teacher Alison Pawson said: “Hopefully we’ll see improvements in concentration and happier children who are ready to learn because they are not hungry.”
Rachel Aspinall, nine, added: “I’ve got two brothers and three sisters so it is chaotic at home in the morning, so being able to have breakfast at school is great.”