Price hike could be to blame for fall in school meals take-up

Perthshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - Rachel Clark

The num­ber of school meals en­joyed by chil­dren in Perth and Kin­ross has fallen in the wake of an in­crease in their costs.

Fig­ures show there were around 500 fewer meals served to sec­ondary pupils in the open­ing months of this fi­nan­cial year when com­pared with 2016-17.

Bosses at Tay­side Con­tracts, which com­piled the data, be­lieve a fall in the num­ber of sec­ondary pupils might partly be to blame.

But pa­pers pre­sented to of­fi­cials at a meet­ing yes­ter­day also stated:“The down­turn could also be due in part to the meal price in­crease in April.”

The price of sec­ondary school meals is £2.25 and it stands at £2.10 for pri­mary age groups.

The Tay­side Con­tracts board pa­pers show num­bers for 2017-2018 have de­creased from 115,309 in 2016-2017 down to 114,757 – which is a de­crease of 0.5 per cent, or 522 pupils.

Pupils in pri­maries one to three can en­joy free school meals, and there is fur­ther free en­ti­tle­ment to those from less well off back­grounds.

The free en­ti­tle­ment is a suc­cess story in Perth and Kin­ross with 75.5 per cent of pri­mary pupil us­ing the pro­vi­sion, and 50.5 per cent at sec­ondary level. Both saw an in­crease in their up­take, but at all age schools this fell by nearly three per cent to 69.4 per cent.

Over­all, Perth and Kin­ross has the high­est take up of paid-for school meals in Tay­side, and this is in­creas­ing an­nu­ally.

The num­ber of pri­mary school chil­dren in the re­gion tak­ing up school meals was 293,570, which is up 0.7 per cent (1943) on the pre­vi­ous year’s num­bers of 291,627.

And the num­ber of pupils in all-age schools for this year is 70,066, which again is up 0.8 per cent (559) on the pre­vi­ous year’s to­tal of 69,507.

The re­port said:“Perth and Kin­ross has the great­est up­take of paid meals [in Tay­side], which con­tin­ues to in­crease year on year, and again we see a pro­por­tion­ately higher in­crease in paid meals than free meals com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year.”

Other sta­tis­tics show the pro­por­tion of the whole school re­ceiv­ing school meals, not only free meals, for this aca­demic year sits at 62.8 per cent for pri­mary schools, 40.4 per cent for sec­ondary schools, and 84 per cent for all-age schools.

Each fig­ure shows an in­crease on last year, with all age schools en­joy­ing a near 18 per cent leap.

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