School meal numbers double county average

File photo dated 28/08/09 of a school dinner being served at a Primary School. Countryside campaigners today called for more British produce to be served in schools amid concerns many councils do not know where food given to pupils comes from.  PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday November 14, 2011. Buying British would improve the quality of school dinners, which would in turn help youngsters' health, concentration and behaviour, according to the Countryside Alliance Foundation. See PA story EDUCATION Food. Photo credit should read: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

File photo dated 28/08/09 of a school dinner being served at a Primary School. Countryside campaigners today called for more British produce to be served in schools amid concerns many councils do not know where food given to pupils comes from. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday November 14, 2011. Buying British would improve the quality of school dinners, which would in turn help youngsters' health, concentration and behaviour, according to the Countryside Alliance Foundation. See PA story EDUCATION Food. Photo credit should read: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

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Exclusive figures have revealed that the number of pupils claiming free school meals in Scarborough is double the regional average.

However numbers obtained by The Scarborough News show that radical changes to the benefit system have not impacted the number of children in the borough entitled to the meal, which poverty charities claim is often youngsters only meal of the week.

Figures obtained from North Yorkshire County Council show that just over 17 per cent of all children in the borough claimed the meals last year.

Comparatively in North Yorkshire, under one in eleven pupils took up the meals, which are means tested.

However, controversial government changes introduced last April to raise the working tax credit threshold from 16 hours a week to 24 do not appear to have impacted the number of pupils claiming the meals.

Independent County Councillor Mike Cockerill said that parents should put their pride to one side when claiming the meals for the good of their children. “It’s a very difficult thing,” he said.

“We all have our own level of pride and some people don’t like to be seen taking, what’s in effect, a benefit. But then we have some people who seem to make a living from taking benefits.”

According to the figures released by North Yorkshire County Council, the number of pupils in Scarborough claiming meals has risen in the past twelve months.

In 2011, 1,969 youngsters across the district claimed a meal. Comparatively, in 2012, 1,977 pupils claimed their entitlement. However, there were more pupils registered in schools across the borough in 2012.

The figures show that approximately one in every three free school meals claimed in North Yorkshire was taken up by a pupil enrolled at a school in the borough of Scarborough.

Contact the county council to see how you can claim the meals.

North Yorkshire County Council has yet to comment.