All Somerset schools now able to access hot free meals

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Media captionSixteen schools in Somerset to get hot meals after months of delay

All primary schoolchildren in Somerset now have access to free hot school meals after months of delay.

The meals should have been available to all reception and year one pupils from September after the government introduced new legislation.

But 16 schools out of more than 200 had to wait for a new catering unit to be finished in Taunton.

Somerset County Council said the £2.6m unit was now fully operational and preparing 2,000 cooked meals a day.

Image caption The new production kitchen in Taunton has cost £2.6m to complete

Frances Nicholson, who is responsible for children and families at Somerset County Council, said: "This has been a major project for the county, and we're really pleased that the St Augustine's kitchen is now fully operational.

"The Government's free school meals legislation did not state that free school meals must be hot, but it was our ambition that they should be.

"Unlike most authorities who already had a hot meals service, Somerset had to create a hot service in some areas from scratch, constructing a whole new infrastructure to make this happen - and it has certainly been no mean feat."

In total the council is providing 17,000 hot free meals every day to primary schools across Somerset - in line with government legislation.

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