Children facing deterioration in school meals due to shortages and increasing prices

According to the survey, some caterers have experienced 50 per cent price increases since May

Published

Children face a deterioration in school meals due to shortages and increasing prices, a survey suggests.

Ninety-one per cent of the 99 school meal providers polled by Laca The School Food People across England and Wales said they are experiencing food shortages, with over 60 per cent saying this has not improved since May.

Bread, fish, cheese, pasta and potatoes are the items most affected.

The survey also found that prices have risen by a further 30 per cent since May.

This is in addition to the 20 per cent price increases that Laca members reported in May, compared with April 2020.

According to the survey, some caterers have experienced 50 per cent price increases since May.

The survey found that 52.2 per cent expect the quality of school meals to continue getting worse over the coming weeks and months.
The survey found that 52.2 per cent expect the quality of school meals to continue getting worse over the coming weeks and months.

The survey also found that 28 per cent are now using more processed foods to cope with rising costs, while almost 35 per cent are considering switching from British meat to meat from abroad.

The survey found that 52.2 per cent expect the quality of school meals to continue getting worse over the coming weeks and months.

Laca is calling on the Government to increase funding per meal for both Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM) – currently £2.41 – and Free School Meals (FSM) – currently £2.47 – to address the current cost-of-living crisis and for this to increase annually with inflation.

Chairman of Laca Brad Pearce said: “Despite the best efforts of our members and dedicated frontline staff, the school meals industry is on its knees.

“The challenges facing our industry are set to get worse over the coming weeks and months.

“Without an increase in school meal funding the most vulnerable children in our society will go without, possibly, their only hot, healthy and nutritious meal of the day.

“We are also urging the Government to raise the FSM entitlement threshold to all children whose parents are on Universal Credit, to ensure that no child misses out on a school lunch.

“A hungry child cannot learn, but for too many children this could soon become their reality.”

Laca has more than 900 members and 80 per cent of the school catering service in the UK is provided by Laca members.

Children face a deterioration in school meals due to shortages and increasing prices, a survey suggests.
Children face a deterioration in school meals due to shortages and increasing prices, a survey suggests.

Dr Paul Gosling, president of school leaders’ union NAHT and head teacher of a primary school in Devon, said: “The funding that schools receive for providing meals needs to be increased to cover their cost of production.

“In the school I run we have our own kitchens and employ our own kitchen staff.

“We provide meals for our pupils and for another school a couple of miles away which has no kitchen facilities.

“We are finding that food costs and staff costs have risen to the point that the money that we get for infants and the 45 per cent of children who have free school meals (£2.47) does not cover the cost of providing the meals.

“Add the cost of energy to this and the problem is worse.”

He said rising prices mean that schools and caterers have to choose between reducing costs, charging more, or losing money.

“The only thing that will solve this is more funding from the Government,” he said.