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Poll: Norfolk MP says rural pubs could get a boost by serving school meals - but do you think it’s a good idea?

PUBLISHED: 15:58 23 April 2014 | UPDATED: 18:06 23 April 2014

Brandon Lewis, Great Yarmouth MP.

Brandon Lewis, Great Yarmouth MP.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

The county’s pubs might want to consider following the lead of inns in other parts of the country by providing school meals for children, an MP has suggested.

Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said such a move could benefit the pub industry and provide nutritious meals to youngsters.

Speaking in Rotherham, where he was attending an event to mark the renovation of the high street, Mr Lewis was asked if he supported pubs which had been providing school meals.

Swell Primary School in Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, is one example, where pupils are taken to have their lunch at the Golden Ball Inn.

Communities minister Mr Lewis said: “If they’ve got children at lunchtime, going to school and having a good meal, the parents are going to view that pub in a positive way.”

And Mr Lewis said, if the children enjoy their visits, then pubs could benefit because they might suggest to their parents that they head back there.

He said: “It’s playing its part in the community and they might go back for Sunday lunch, and that makes the pub more sustainable.
“If you have got a small school and a small pub, then it could be a match made in heaven, if they provide a good, nutritious meal for the children. If it’s good for the school and for the community, then that’s great.”

Conservative MP Mr Lewis said pubs which thrived were those which identified what their communities needed and plugged the gaps.

He said: “The best pubs are those which look at what the local community wants and then provides it, whether that’s gastropubs, ones which host cinemas or provide coffee shops.”

The comments from Mr Lewis come at a time when Norfolk County Council is in the midst of assessing all its schools to establish if they are ready to provide free schools meals.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg last year announced all infants will be entitled to free schools meals from this September, but there has been concern about whether schools are ready for the new policy.

Although it does not know how many schools do not have a kitchen, Norse provides catering services to 117 primary school dining centres which do not have full on-site kitchens.

However, it said not every school which lacks a kitchen will need an upgrade.

The council has received £1.9m of government funding, which it said it will prioritise to allow schools to meet their duty.

• Do you think it would be a good idea for pubs to offer school meals to children? Let us know your views by commenting below this story.

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