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School Meals: Prices

Volume 475: debated on Monday 28 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps he is taking to prevent increases in the prices of school meals; and if he will make a statement. (201859)

The Government are taking forward a number of steps to help to keep down the price of school meals. We are investing over £650 million between 2005-11 to help raise nutritional standards and keep school lunch prices down. This funding is also being used to help build kitchens in areas with no kitchen facilities; to better support the development of training centres for the school food workforce; and to improve overall take-up.

The School Food Trust is working with manufacturers, caterers and schools to ensure the long term sustainability and efficiency of the country’s school food service. They are working with food producers and manufacturers to ensure that the nutrient menus have a minimum effect on the price of school meals as well as working on kitchen efficiencies, including both skilling the workforce and looking at international business models. The Trust has produced guidance focusing on efficient and sustainable school food procurement. This guidance is being distributed to all schools in April 2008.

The Department is working in close alliance with the Trust and other Departments, to identify opportunities and develop initiatives to further improve efficiencies in procurement. These include price benchmark variance reporting, common food standards and terms and conditions to support local and national competitive tendering, as well as the use of shared contracts from other Departments, where they can be shown to meet the needs of schools.