Skint school may be forced to scrap hot dinners as it can’t afford to feed pupils

A primary school is making a last-ditch attempt to continue providing hot school meals for pupils after previously saying they were too expensive after budget cuts, Coventry LIVE reports.

Parents were warned that Eastern Green Junior School was considering scrapping hot school meals entirely in a bid to save cash last month.

A letter sent out to parents blamed the move on cuts and increased running costs.

It said the school, as with others across the country, was under ‘tremendous financial pressure’ and had been running school meals at a ‘significant loss’ for years.

Eastern Green Junior School head Nicky Aston wrote to parents: “Schools face tremendous financial pressures as a result of frozen budgets and significantly increased running costs.

“The only way we can maintain our school meals is by significantly increasing the cost of school meals by up to 60%, which is both unfeasible and unreasonable.

“Another alternative solution is that we become a ‘packed lunch only’ school; if this decision is made, it is likely to take effect from September 2018.”

She told the Mirror: “It’s not something we’d do without really thinking about it.”

All pupils in England aged four to seven are entitled to free school meals, but the Coventry school’s pupils are seven to 11, so do not qualify.

Although its catchment area is not deprived, it extends into districts where poverty rates are significantly higher.

Gavin Lloyd, running as a Labour candidate in Coventry at next week’s local elections, said: “It’s disgraceful that schools are having to consider scrapping hot dinners for children due to funding cuts.

“It’s taking us back to a Dickensian time.”

Like most schools, Eastern Green uses a catering contractor, and it has heavily subsidised meals.

Because school funding now comes directly from central government, councils have no power to ensure cash for the meals.

Councillors fear schools in poorer areas could have to make similar cuts.

Kevin Maton, cabinet member for education at Coventry City Council, urged ministers to increase budgets.

Teachers across the country have already warned they are having to feed and clothe pupils as a growing number of families cannot afford to do so.

Labour’s Shadow Education ­Secretary Angela Rayner has accused the ­Government of ditching its manifesto pledge to protect school budgets.

The school is now in talks with another contractor in the hope of a new deal that will allow it to keep hot meals.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:“There is more money going into schools than ever before and over the next two years every school will attract an increase in funding through our fairer formula.

“In Coventry, schools will get £1.3m more next year under the new formula.”

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