School lunch prices in Sheffield are to remain at £1.98 per child for the next year, the city council has confirmed today.
Council leaders have agreed not to implement a price increase, despite rising costs to the authority, and says it is ‘determined’ to help families on low incomes afford to give their children a decent meal.
Coun Jackie Drayton, cabinet Member for children, young people and families, said: “Child poverty is going up and it is families who are working that are being hardest hit.
“That is why we want to do all we can to help these people when we know money is tight.
“There are still universal free meals for infants but we want to make sure families are still able to afford for their junior school children to have at last one good meal a day too.
“It is extremely worrying that families in Sheffield are struggling to make ends meet.
“It is shocking in 2015 that we are seeing families not being able to afford to feed their children, to the point of having to use food banks in some extreme cases. It is therefore our duty to make sure we do what we can to help.”
She said that school dinner prices rising could create a ‘tipping point’ for some families and children who ate at least one good meal a day performed better in school.
Taylor Shaw currently runs the school dinners service for the majority of the city’s schools and has had to implement a small rise in cost, mainly due to higher food costs this year.
The council is to pay for that rise rather than passing it on to parents and carers.
It also wants to encourage parents of infant school children to take up the offer of free school meals, which in some schools is still relatively low.
“I would like to see all Infant school age children benefitting from this offer, “ added Coun Drayton.
“I accept there are some children who for one reason or another have to have a packed lunch, but we need to do more to encourage other parents to take up this golden opportunity for their young children.
“It can only be beneficial for the children.”