A community fund set up to to help pay for a pilot project to provide free school meals at two York primary schools has already amassed almost £500 - even though it has not officially been launched yet.

The York Hungry Minds Appeal - otherwise known as the York Community Fund - aims to provide funds so that free school lunches can be provided from January for Key stage 2 children at Westfield Primary, which serves one of the most disadvantaged areas of York.

Children at Burton Green Primary, meanwhile, will be offered free breakfast for a year from January.

The city council has already set aside £100,000 to pay for the first year of the pilot at Westfield.

But the Burton Green Primary pilot - and an extension of the Westfield scheme - will depend on money raised through the appeal.

The appeal, which is being administered for the council by the Two Ridings Community Foundation, is set for a formal launch at the start of December.

But details have already gone up on the Two Ridings website.

And Two Ridings chief executive Celia Mckeon confirmed between £400 and £500 had already been received in donations.

Investigating ways to offer free school meals to York primary school children - starting with schools in the most disadvantaged areas - was a key Labour election pledge ahead of the May elections.

The council says that the current eligibility criteria for free school meals exclude many children whose families are experiencing financial hardship.

It cites calculations by the Child Poverty Action Group which indicate that two in five children living in households below the poverty line remain ineligible for free school meals.

Labour took control of the city council following the May election.

And speaking this week, the new executive member for education Cllr Bob Webb said: “The launch of the York Community Fund is a landmark step on the route to delivering free school meals to primary school children across York.

"I want to thank Two Ridings Foundation for its help in setting this up and am keen to see individuals and organisations contributing however they can to grow the Fund for young people in York.

"This reflects the one city approach we’re keen to promote where everyone is able to flourish and succeed, whatever York postcode they were born in. This is especially important during a cost-of-living crisis”.

To make a donation to the York Hungry Minds Appeal, visit www.tworidingscf.org.uk/york-hungry-minds/