Hampshire County Council is set to review the price of freshly-cooked, healthy school meals in a bid to maintain value for money, despite financial pressures caused by rising costs from the impact of the National Living Wage and food inflation.
On 8 November 2017, the County Council’s Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services, Councillor Keith Mans, will be asked to consider a price per meal increase of 15p to take effect from September 2018. If agreed, this would see the price of a freshly cooked, two course, school meal rise from £2.15 to £2.30 per day.
Councillor Mans commented: “There are a number of factors that I will be sure to take into account when making a decision on whether or not to increase the price of school meals in Hampshire. I am keen that school meals remain affordable but there is a balance to be struck between being able to continue to maintain such prices and meeting the increasing and unavoidable costs associated with providing those meals. In any final decision that I make, I will want to ensure the agreed price is manageable and fair to all.”
If agreed, the increase would bring the price per meal in line with those charged by many other local authorities, as well as the Department for Education’s funding for Universal Infant Free School Meals, which is set at £2.30.
In the 2016/2017 school year, HC3S, the County Council’s award winning catering business, cooked and served over 14 million school meals in Hampshire’s primary and secondary schools.
As far as possible, HC3S sources the ingredients for school meals from local suppliers, with many vegetables and salads being supplied by local south coast growers when in season. HC3S has worked with schools, pupils and parents for over 20 years to create menus that are varied and follow the guiding principles of healthy eating. As a result of keeping out over 70 additives out of primary school meals since 2005, HC3S school meals have the highest award for Excellence in School Meals from the Hyperactive Children’s Support Group.
An emphasis on quality means that all HC3S meals meet Department for Education standards and, in addition, include:
• Being nut free
• Tailored menus for children who have medically proven food allergies
• A range of gluten free items available as standard on all menus
• Fish approved by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), from well managed and, sustainable sources
• UK sourced meat that holds Red Tractor Assurance as minimum
• Free range eggs
National recognition for the quality of ingredients and meals cooked by HC3S has been received over many years, with awards and accolades such as the Good Pig, Good Chicken and Good Egg accreditations from Compassion in World Farming; being named 2015 Lead Association for Catering in Education Business of the Year Award; and winning the Gold Award for schools, colleges and universities in the Eating Out Magazine’s ‘Free From’ category.