FREE school meals for the youngest pupils can save parents more than £350 a year.

As parents prepare for children returning to school next week they are being reminded of the free school meals programme for all primary 1 to 3 pupils.

The cost of school clothes, equipment and puts pressure on family budgets making the end of summer difficult for many.

Glasgow City Council and Cordia who supply the city’s schools with meals are making parents aware of the free meals and encouraging as many as possible to take up the offer.

Cordia has been putting on sessions in schools for parents to sample the meals their children will eat.

In the first two years of the programme more than five million free lunches have been served in the city’s schools.

Chris Cunningham, City Convener for Education, said: “Our school meals are healthy, nutritious and very tasty, all the correct ingredients that will help boost our pupils’ energy and concentration levels after lunch.

“The universal free school meals for all P1 to P3 has been welcomed by many families and I would encourage all new parents to sample the school meals with their children when they get the opportunity.”

It is estimated that the free meal will help parents save as much as £363 a year per child.

In Glasgow children can choose a main meal, a drink with a dessert and as much fruit, vegetables, soup and bread as they like.

Cordia said the meals comply with national nutrition standards.

Julia McCreadie, Head of Encore and Facilities Management, said:“Around 85% of children are opting for a free meal at lunchtime, which is fantastic but it’s also important to get the message out to the parents of new pupils.

“We strongly encourage parents to take full advantage of Fuel Zone’s offering, ensuring their children receive a healthy nutritional meal.”