All children in the first three years of primary school are to be given free school meals, deputy PM Nick Clegg has announced.
The change – for children in reception, year one and year two – will save parents about £400 a year per child.
Lancashire’s teaching leaders have given the announcement a cautious welcome.
David Fann, headteacher of Sherwood Primary School, and member of the national executive of the National Association of Headteachers, said he welcomed the idea in principle.
He said: “The caveat is whether schools have got the capacity to make these school meals.
“Some schools have lost their kitchens, and some schools haven’t got dining rooms or halls big enough.
“We also hope this is new money – we don’t want money being taken from curriculum support and school budgets.”
The initiative is set to come into force in September next year.
He said: “In this school there are going to be 180 children having free school meals, where at the moment we cook about 11 school meals and the rest of them have sandwiches.”
Mr Fann added: “I want this to be well-planned, and not just a knee-jerk electioneering initiative.
“We are positive about it, but we need to make sure we’ve got the right staff and the right facilities to deliver.
“There are schools that have no catering facilities, and there’s all kinds of issues that have to be thought out.”
Longsands Community Primary School headteacher Paul Seagraves said it would be a “wonderful idea” if it came to fruition.
He said: “It has great benefits to the children and to the parents concerned.”
The school meals scheme will save parents about £437 a year for each child, and was the key announcement of the Liberal Democrats’ autumn conference in Glasgow.
The plan will ensure a hot lunch is available to all children in reception, year 1 and year 2 – pupils aged between five and seven – and follows a Department for Education study earlier this year which showed the move produced considerable benefits, including academic improvements.
The Lib Dems say 1.5 million more children will get free meals when the scheme takes effect in September 2014, on top of the 400,000 already entitled to them.