Wednesday July 15 2015

 

COUNCIL leaders have made the decision to keep down the cost of school dinners to help parents while times are tight.

 

School meal prices are set to stay at £1.98 per child for the next academic year after Sheffield City Council agreed to not implement a price increase to parents.

 

The council is determined to help families on low incomes to be able to afford to give their child at least one decent meal a day, despite the worries of cuts nationally.

 

This comes just days after national statistics showed child poverty to still be at an all-time high in the UK.

 

Councillor Jackie Drayton, Sheffield City Council’s 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.

 

”The bitter blow being delivered by the Government is having a huge detrimental effect on families locally, and this has become even worse following the July Emergency Budget announcement.

 

“It is not so much the families on benefits, but those on low incomes who are at risk of going under if further funds are cut nationally. It is a fact that cuts to income does makes it more and more difficult for hard working families to cope, and if school dinner prices increase this could be a tipping point for some families. The extra pennies per dinner soon add up. That is why we are keen to take this extra pressure off families.

 

“It is a well-known fact that children who have at least one good hearty meal in them will perform better at school, and in turn this leads to better attainment, which is a crucial aim of ours.”

 

Taylor Shaw, which runs the school dinners service for the majority of the city’s schools, has had to implement a small rise in cost, mainly due to higher food costs this year – but Sheffield City Council has pledged to keep prices at last year’s level.

 

Both the Council and Taylor Shaw see the health and well – being as paramount and maintaining the food standards and quality of food play a key part of this.

 

As a result the council does not want to see the price increase being passed onto parents and carers or schools.

 

The Council 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 Cllr 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.”

 

Taylor Shaw took over running school meals for the local authority four years ago after successfully bidding for the contract.

 

And since then the Warrington based company has gone on to win national acclaim for their work in Sheffield alone.