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