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Rising costs: Beef taken off school dinners menu

Inflation has made life quite difficult in most aspects. With food prices continually rising certain things for some schools are not within the budget.

Some schools catering services are having to make the switch to cheaper imported meats and change the range of fruit and vegetables.

Government funding for free school meals for the youngest school children has just been increased however Laca the school caterer's association for England and Wales were concerned that the quality of the meals would be under threat.

Until recently local Cornish beef was served for the weekly roast dinners but now Laira Green Primary School in Plymouth have now had to make the switch to gammon, a cheaper meat alternative.

In addition to that, chicken is also on the menu a lot less often than it previously was and is instead replaced with turkey.

This school is only one out of almost 70 around the city that are served by the same catering company.

More than half the children at the school are entitled to free school meals and for some that meal may be their only meal of the day.

Even staple foods such as potatoes have become more expensive as their suppliers face rising costs for fertiliser and fuel costs. Pasta, oil, fish and frozen vegetables are among the food that have been impacted most when it comes to school meals.

Caterer's have reported seeing cost increases of 20-30% for a variety of products and the prices are fluctuating as often as weekly.

Laca revealed that one catering company endured an increase of cost for a 10kg bag of potatoes which soared from ten pounds to fifteen and a box of 60 eggs increased from nine pounds seventy- nine to thirteen pounds and thirty-nine pence.

Vice Chairman of Laca, Brad Pearce stated that the long term impact of the pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine were all having an impact on what his members could put on plates to feed the school children and that caterer's are also struggling to recruit more staff.

He declared;

"The costs that are coming forward make it impossible for us to continue. unless some very difficult choices are made."

Choices which include moving to more processed foods or buying meat from abroad which is something that he does not want to resort to but measures have to be taken in order to be able to keep food on plates.


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