Children at a Moray nursery celebrated the success of a free lunch scheme as they tucked in alongside a special visitor yesterday.
The Scottish Government is introducing free meals for children of nursery age across the country and bosses at Seafield Nursery in Elgin say they have noticed a “huge difference” since the initiative was launched there last August.
Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd, joined the youngsters yesterday to see the effects first-hand.
She said: “Ensuring that every child has access to healthy meals and snacks while at nursery is important.
“It is also important that children are exposed to positive eating habits at an early age, helping to pave the way for good health.
“It’s great to see the positive impact that access to healthy meals is already having on children in Seafield Nursery.”
Manager of the nursery, Rachel Main, outlined the changes she has seen in the children since the scheme was introduced.
She said: “We have been serving nursery lunches since August and already see a huge difference in the children’s confidence using cutlery, and development of their social skills during our happy, relaxed lunchtimes.
“We’ve also had great feedback from parents who say their children are now willing to try different foods at home.”
Chairwoman of Moray Council’s children and young people’s services committee, Sonya Warren, spoke of the plan’s long-term benefits.
The Buckie representative added: “We know the idea behind the Scottish Government’s funded lunch for three and four-year-olds is ultimately to close the attainment gap by ensuring the health and wellbeing of our children,.
“To see that in action at Seafield Nursery is a wonderful testament to the staff here who are supporting the children to get the best out of their time in nursery.”
Ms Todd added: “As we move towards the full roll-out, these benefits will come to even more children and families.”
In Moray, children receiving their funded 1,140 hours a year of early learning and childcare over lunchtime are entitled to a meal provided by the adjoining or local school kitchen – with the dish of the day coinciding with the school lunch menu.
The nursery menu also runs on a six-weekly cycle and is available for parents to view online.
Lunches are served in the nursery by a catering assistant and have already proven to be a big hit with the children.