A NEW kitchen at the former St Augustine of Canterbury School, Taunton, is now preparing 2,000 cooked meals a day for primary school children aged under seven.

A total of 17,000 extra hot free school meals are now being provided daily across Somerset following the Government’s infant free school meal legislation.

From this term, all primary schools requesting hot, free school meals from the county council now have access to them.

There are 100 new serving school kitchens and seven production and finishing kitchens invested in by the council and the Department for Education.

Free meals were available to all Somerset schools with infants in September, of which 80% had access to hot meals.

Since then the county has worked with contractors to give all schools with infants the option of hot meals.

Frances Nicholson, the council’s cabinet member for children and families, 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 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, however, Somerset had to create a hot service in some areas from scratch, constructing a whole new infrastructure.”