Compass Group has bowed to pressure from parents at a north London primary school and offered a new "enhanced menu", which contains more home-cooked and less processed food.
Parents at St Paul's Primary School in Camden had been unhappy about the standard of school meals since Scolarest, the education division of Compass, won the contract in April 2003 after previous caterer Serviceteam quit.
At a meeting with school governors in December, St Paul's agreed to remain in Camden's school meals scheme if a new, higher-quality menu was introduced. The decision on whether to adopt the new menu will be made by governors this week, with an introduction date set for 21 February.
The increased ingredient cost of the new menu, estimated at 70p per child, would initially be met by Scolarest. If popular, Camden has said it may increase the funding the school receives to cover the difference.
Camden council, which is currently conducting a review of school meals, said: "Across the borough there were problems with the service after the contract was awarded. Camden council has since listened to schools and parents extensively and, in response, has done a lot with Scolarest, which has significantly improved the service."
A Compass spokeswoman pointed out that its existing school menu exceeded Government nutrition guidelines, but she said that producing food on the current budget of 45p a child remained challenging.
"We are actively lobbying central and local Government for an increase in the basic food cost to between 60p and 70p per meal to ensure that we can continue to provide quality improvements," she added.
In with the new
New menu selections - Lamb bolognese served with pasta twists and garlic bread
- Jacket potato with cheesy coleslaw topping (vegetarian option)
- Home-cooked rice pudding
- Fresh fruit
Old menu selections - Turkey pie and gravy
- Ghostburgers (vegetarian option)
- Rainbow sponge and raspberry sauce
Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 13 January 2005