School meals: Prices could soon increase for 515 schools across Lancashire
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Lancashire County Council currently provide a food menu to 515 schools – 489 primary and specials schools, and 26 secondary schools.
While schools set their own prices for school dinners, the council has recommended that they increase the price from £2.35 to £2.40 per meal due to higher costs.
>>>Lancashire has one of the highest rates of children entitled to free school meals. Click here for more.
Children entitled to free school meals, and those in the first three years of school who are part of the universal free meals offer for key stage one pupils, will not be affected as their meals are government funded.
A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: "Our catering service reviews the cost of service to schools annually to reflect the inflationary impacts of annual wage increases and food price rises.
"Inflationary increases are communicated to schools ahead of the new financial year along with guidance on the recommended selling price for school meals. It is then for individual schools to consider whether they adopt the recommended selling price and adjust the price of paid school meal charges to parents."
A price increase did not take place in April 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic. It was raised for the first time last year by 5p to £2.35 in line with a rise in the National Living Wage.The council is 'fully committed' to sourcing its ingredients for school meals locally and all of its suppliers are located within 35 miles of Preston.
The catering service is also the largest local authority organisation under the Soil Association's Food for Life Served Here scheme.Parents can also be assured that school dinner menus in Lancashire are accredited by Sugarwise for having a reduced sugar content.
Some larger schools in Lancashire run independent kitchens and set their own prices.
One of those is Archbishop Temple Church of England High School in Fulwood, which has not altered its prices since 2019.
A spokesman said: "Despite the rising cost of food and transferring from plastic to more expensive biodegradable packaging and cutlery, the kitchen hasn’t increased it’s prices in the last three years. It may be something we need to look at in the future due to rising costs."
More information about eligibility for free school meals can be found at the gov.uk website here.