HEADTEACHERS today welcomed a new contract which is promising healthier and fresher school meals - but many city parents say they have still to be won over.
Many mums and dads prefer to prepare packed lunches and are unconvinced school lunches represent good value for money.
Mum-of-three Dorota Czelusniak, aged 33, of Parson Cross, Sheffield, whose children are aged six, four and 18 months, gives her children a packed lunch for health reasons.
She said: “My children have a packed lunch from home because school lunches are unhealthy - pizza, chips and deep fried things. I cook healthy meals for my children instead.”
But Dave Turner, 33, of Hunters Bar, who has a 17-month-old daughter, Lucienne, said: “If it is good quality, fresh local ingredients cooked well, I don’t necessarily mind a price rise.
“But if it’s just generic rubbish and E numbers it’s not worth it.”
Teenage mum Gemma Busfield, 19, from Sheffield, whose daughter Layla is five months old, said she did not think school meals were good value for money.
She said: “It’s ridiculous because they only get a small portion. I think it should be about £1. They are overpriced - my sisters always come out of school still starving. It’s disgusting.”
Sian Green, 26, of Conisbrough, whose son Ethan is six months old, said: “We don’t like it. If it’s gone up that much, imagine how much it’s going to be by the time Ethan goes to school.
“I don’t think they are very healthy and I think they could do with a lot more options. Prices are just going up and up.”
Kevan Smith, of Manor, a parent-governor at Pipworth School, where his five-year-old daughter Olivia attends, said: “The increase will not affect us much because Olivia chooses whether to have a packed lunch or a school meal.
“At Pipworth, they send us a menu which runs on a four week rota so we can tell Olivia what is for lunch at school and she can choose school dinner or packed lunch for that day as we pay for school lunches on a daily basis.
“I am working so can cope with the increase. Single parents or those on lower incomes might have a different view.”
City heads said the new Taylor Shaw meals contract was already proving to be a success.
Westways School at Crookes is one of the schools to have had a production kitchen installed this summer - meaning lunches no longer have to be shipped in from elsewhere.
Head Melanie Holmes said the new menus had been going down really well.
“I was talking to the children today and they said the meals were much tastier and were now piping hot,” she said.
“Cooking on the premises has made a big difference and we’ve already seen a slight increase in numbers. Certainly the spaghetti bolognaise we had the other day went down really well.”
At Waterthorpe Infants headteacher Helen Stokes said she had been in the kitchen to see how the new contract was working.
“The meat that was being used was lovely, of really good quality and the cook said it was much better than it had been before,” she said.
“It is still early days but we are pleased to see things on the menu that our children really will enjoy - which tends to be the meat and two veg style of menu rather than junk food.”