CALLS for Halton Council to introduce free healthy school school meals in a bid to increase the borough’s life expectancy have been cautiously rejected by Halton Council.
The GMB union believes provision of healthy school meals could contribute to people living longer and tackle health inequalities - but the council claims the move would prove too expensive.
However, it said it would welcome the move if it was to be funded by central Government.
A league table of average life expectancies between 2004-6 published by the Office for National Statistics reveals that Halton has one of the North West’s shortest average life expectancies.
Paul McCarthy, GMB North West secretary, said: “Healthy eating is a key factor in how long we live. The best place to start educating people about nutrition and food is those early years of life at home and school.
“Free school meals for all primary school children will provide long term benefits to the nation’s health, as well as dealing with the old fashioned stigma associated with means tested provisions.”
Cllr Phil Harris, Halton Council’s executive board member for school meals, said: “The cost of funding universal free healthy school meals for all primary schools in Halton would be more than £4.1m.
“If the Government was to provide this funding we would be delighted to offer this choice to our pupils.”