The introduction of free school meals for the youngest primary school pupils has already cost Highland Council more than £200,000 in minor improvements to school kitchens and dining rooms.
The local authority also had to take on 53 extra catering staff to enable it to deliver the Scottish Government’s commitment to providing lunch for Primary 1 to 3 pupils from January this year.
Building work is also going to be required at a number of schools given the increase in the numbers of pupils who will be fed on school premises.
The figures are revealed in a report by Bill Alexander, Highland Council’s director of care and learning, which will be presented to councillors on the education, children and adult services committee at a meeting in Inverness on Wednesday.
Mr Alexander said: “In the vast majority of the council’s schools, the policy could be implemented in a relatively straightforward way, with additional resources to support staff and service delivery.”
He added: “There were 50 schools where the consequences of the policy were more significant, in terms of uptake of meals and capacity within the kitchen and dining space.
“Revenue and capital investment has taken place within these schools to support implementation.
“Further longer-term investment will be required in some sites.
Mr Alexander explained that the minor works carried out, included new dining room furniture, new serving and clearing equipment and providing additional fridges and freezers.
They also involved installing heavy kitchen equipment cookers and combination ovens and the provision of additional equipment, such as kitchen utensils, crockery and cutlery.
Dingwall, Merkinch, Dalneigh and Grantown primaries need medium or large extensions with Avoch, Lochardil, Glenurquhart and Balloch primaries needing small extensions.
The council is looking at options for improvements at Rosebank and Crown with Portree and Newtonmore primaries needing additional storage areas.
However, Mr Alexander pointed out that the council received additional revenue funding from the Scottish Government of £0.8million in 2014/15, rising to £2.6million in 2015/16, to support he new policy, with an additional £5million for capital expenditure.
He added that there had been a mixed reaction to the new service.
He said: “The feedback so far has been positive, albeit it is still early days.
“It has become very obvious that meal uptake is very dependent on what’s on the menu.”