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School meals uptake falls by up to 25% in Essex town

10 November 2006

A quarter of pupils at schools in Redbridge, Essex, have turned their noses up at healthier school meals, according to caterer Eden Foodservice.

The 25% drop is more than double the national average.

A spokesman for Eden Foodservice, which was formerly Initial Catering, said: "We've had to adhere to the Government standards, but basically they've had a bigger impact in Redbridge than anywhere else."

A BBC survey this week and Caterer research showed that since September school- meal take-up in English schools had fallen by anything up to 10% compared with last year.

Many local authorities contacted by Caterer conceded their school meals service was in the red and questioned the long-term viability of a council-run service.

Paul Doherty, headmaster of Nightingale primary in Redbridge, said: "School dinners are often run by outside caterers. My view is, if school dinners are so important why don't we have a national dining service?"

An Eden Foodservice spokesman said: "We believe the drop is primarily due to children adjusting to unfamiliar dishes and the wide demographic we are catering for."

Prue Leith named as new chair of the School Food Trust >>

Make cookery lessons in schools compulsory, say campaigners >>

By Tom Bill

E-mail your comments to Tom Bill](mailto:tom.bill@rbi.co.uk?subject=School meals uptake falls by up to 25% in Essex town) here.

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