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Cheshire East Council to stop school lunch service due to rising costs

07 May 2024
Cheshire East Council has announced that it can no longer afford to run Fresh, which provides meals and snacks to 87 schools and employs over 250 people it was reported by BBC News.

The local authority said it would increase the price of its school meals from September 2024 until the service closes in April 2025. The council-run school lunch service has been subsidised by the taxpayer for several years.  

The committee voted to cease trading Cheshire East’s catering service by April 2025. Seven councillors voted in favour, two against and three abstained.

Conservative councillor for Congleton, George Hayes told BBC News: “The school where I chair the governing body has set its budget and it has set its budget based on paying £2.42 per meal. To then increase that to £3.40 per meal is going to mean that my already very tight budget isn’t going to be tight any more it’s going to be unsustainable and how are we supporting schools?

“For means tested free school meals, the Government only pays a flat rate anyway, so even if Cheshire East are charging three pound something, the Government rate isn’t necessarily going to rise in line with that so there’s a net loss there as well, which would affect some of our most deprived schools.”