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Parent power wins £1m extra for school meals in Camden

02 June 2005

Parent pressure in the London borough of Camden has persuaded the council to stump up £1m of additional cash to improve school meals.

From next April ingredients spend will rise from 45p to between 60p to 70p per meal.

The council claims that the new cash means menus will include more home cooked, unprocessed food and be based on best practice guidelines from Scotland.

Eleven schools currently without cooking facilities will also be fitted with "regeneration" kitchens under the scheme.

The cash boost means Camden's 56 schools, the majority of which are primary, will receive an extra £4,500 each a year for meals.

Chairman of the Local Authority Catering Association, Neil Porter said the money was a good starting point. "The tide is beginning to turn, and people are finally giving more profile to the quality of food, rather than being simply cost driven," he said.

However, consultant Chris Stern questioned the increase. "It'll make a difference but maybe not a significant one. The money would be better spent managing the contract more effectively," he said.

Scolarest, which is part of Compass Group, provides catering services at 48 of the borough's schools and previously described the budget as challenging.

A spokeswoman said: "Scolarest warmly welcomes Camden Council's announcement to increase the food spend per head in Camden schools. Increasing the food costs per child by just a few pence each day makes a significant difference to the quality of meals that can be provided."

Tendering for a new borough-wide contract will start in August. Camden plans to keep the service in the private sector because taking it back in-house would be too expensive.

  • John Harrison, newly elected mayor of North Tyneside, has pledged £4m to introduce free school meals for all primary school children in the area during his four-year term.
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