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LACA’s media campaign for fairer school meals funding hits the news

07 Feb 2024
LACA’s campaign for ‘fair school meals funding’ was picked up by national and regional media yesterday (February 6th), with an estimated total audience reach of more than 5m on the day.

Among those taking part in media duties was the school meals organisation’s immediate past chair Brad Pearce, who set the wheels in motion for the campaign during his term in office.

The campaign calls on all political parties to commit to a minimum funding level of £3 a meal in their general election manifestoes to support increased food and ingredient costs as well as increases to the UK Living Wage.

He told BBC Devon: “We have seen huge shifts in the quality of school meals over the last 15 years or so and it really is a concern that how we can continue to improve that quality and maintain those standards as we go forward.

“What we need to remember is that the funding that the Government provide currently is just £2.53 per meal in England and that is whether the child is four or 18 but that has to cover both food and labour.

“£2.53 in the current economic climate, and what we have seen over the last 18 months, really the sums just don’t add up anymore in terms of how we are able to deliver that. And then we look at other nations in the UK and London where the figure is actually much higher.

“So Sadiq Khan has just looked to increase the primary free school meal rate to £3 from September [2024]. It’s £3.20 in Wales, it’s £3.33 in Scotland and so England is lagging behind and we are just calling for this to be recognised so that we can continue to do the great job that school caterers do every day.

“We need to fight back and say let’s give us a reasonable amount of funding. I don’t think that an index linked £3 per meal is excessive. Back in the Covid-19 pandemic the Government issued food vouchers for £3 per day per child. So what we are saying is let’s just play just a little bit of catch up and let’s get a reasonable funding settlement so that we can actually continue to do the great job that we do.”

Also joining yesterday’s media round was Mark Sargeant, the award-winning chef and restaurateur in his new role as LACA spokesperson, said: “I’m so excited to be a part of this. It’s so important that children have access to fresh, healthy food at school. It’s the most important thing to feed their brains and energy to learn and get the most out of school.”

And Lando Duplooy, the headteacher at Dersingham Primary School, in Newham, told ITV news: “If this does not get addressed we are just going to see a nation and a group of young people coming up and choosing to make the wrong decisions around food.”