Ruth Cadbury Warns That School Meals Becoming Less Healthy

Cost rises forcing cheaper products to be used

Ruth Cadbury Warns That School Meals Becoming Less HealthyMore processed food and cheaper produce being used due to rising costs

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Brentford & Isleworth MP, Ruth Cadbury, has called for government action over what she says is a trend towards less healthy school meals due to rising costs.

In a debate in the House of Commons on Monday (5 July) she warned that the cost of living crisis means that schools across the country are having to cut back on healthy items in school meals and use cheaper products. She said that after a decade of underfunding many schools and colleges are struggling with the increased cost of energy bills and the rise in inflation to 9%.

In her question Ms Cadbury criticised the Government for saying this was a matter for schools who set their individual budgets, so she asked whether this was the ‘best the Government could serve up.’

Speaking in full afterwards she said, ‘‘It’s not fair that children across the country are at risk of missing out on crucial healthy meals because of the Government’s failure to tackle the cost-of-living crisis. The rising cost of heating, food and other costs for schools mean the Government need to do more. Children should not be missing out on healthy meals, which play a crucial role in improving their learning and development.’’

Laca, the school caterers' association for England and Wales, said the quality of meals was under threat with some of its members forced to switch to using cheaper imported meats, moving towards more processed food and changing the range of fruit and vegetables on offer.

There are mandatory food standards for school meals and caterers say it is becoming increasing difficult to do this within existing budgets.

There is increased concern particularly for some children on free school meals for whom the food they eat at school might be their main meal of the day.

The government has said it would continue to give help to the most vulnerable people in response the rising cost of living, and insists that it had expanded access to free school meals "more than any other [government] in recent decades".

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July 8, 2022

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