United Kingdom: Healthy School Lunches Are Under Jeopardy Due To Scarcity Of Ingredients And Growing Costs

Posted on

The soaring cost of fresh meat, particularly beef, may force some schools to remove it from their menus, caterers have warned.

School food caterers’ organization Laca reports that some are using more processed foods, while others are switching from British beef to meat from foreign countries.

Most school caterers in England and Wales have reported shortages of food and a 20 percent increase in average food expenses since April 2020, according to a study of 170 school caterers. Fresh meat is in limited supply, and a number of caterers are contemplating utilizing more processed foods.

In over 80% of cases, catering companies have had to alter or restrict their menu offerings due to supply chain issues.  Jacquie Blake, national chair of Laca, said: “With families facing a cost of living crisis at home, it is even more urgent than ever that all children receive a healthy school lunch. This can only be achieved through sufficient support for the sector and we are calling on the Government to act now to ensure that schools are able to continue feeding children.” 

According to Laca, 40% of caterers are worried that they would be unable to satisfy school food requirements in the next academic year if government money is not ring-fenced.

“Really clear school food standards, which are all about healthy, nutritious meals for children while they are in school,” said Will Quince, children and families minister. “I recognise the global inflationary pressures that the school catering sector and schools are not immune from – that’s why we’ve put an extra £7 billion over the course of the spending review period into schools, an additional £4 billion of that this year,” he said.

Minced beef prices have climbed by 11 percent overnight in the last several days, according to Laca. In an effort to keep the quality of school lunches as high as possible, some school administrators say they are squeezing their budgets in other areas.

It is “not sustainable” for a school to keep food prices at the current level, says Paul Gosling, president of the National Association of Head Teachers.

The following article is paraphrased, it’s originally published by: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/07/04/food-shortages-rising-prices-putting-healthy-school-meals-risk/