School dinner rip off claim

ANGRY students across Suffolk say rocketing prices are making school dinners a rip off – and forcing them to go out at lunch times to buy cheaper food.

ANGRY students across Suffolk say rocketing prices are making school dinners a rip off – and forcing them to go out at lunch times to buy cheaper food.

Youngsters say their parents are having to fork out too much for too little and they have no choice but to leave the school premises to eat, providing a welcome boost in trade for local fast food outlets.

Over four years the cost of a meal at Orwell High School in Felixstowe for example, has risen from around £1, to a whopping £3.

Christina Price, 15, has written to headteacher David Forrest, to protest.


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She said: "We are being ripped off as the prices have just gone up and up. They have increased again this term but there is no improvement in the quality or the choice on offer."

Amy Harrison, 15, stood by her friends claims: "Chips have gone up from 50p a portion to 80p, pizza from 40p to 75p and fizzy drinks are about 20p more expensive than in the shops."

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Amy comes from a family of four foster children who need dinner money every day. The cost has risen from £4 to £12 a day.

Amy said: "They can only afford to give me around £1.50 so I don't have much choice but eat somewhere else.

It was difficult to find anyone with a good word to say about the meals. But many other teenagers from the school reinforced the girls' opinion including Ian Young, Stewart Weston, Rebbeca Edhouse and Clara Jacobs.

As a result children are heading out in droves to find cheaper alternatives.

Bugattis Chip Shop, in Walton, is packed-out every lunchtime and offers special deals for the students and the nearby Co-op and bakery are also very popular.

Mr Forrest said: "School dinners went up by 10 per cent at the beginning of the term which was the recommended level from the Suffolk County Catering. If we did not raise prices by this level they would have to be subsidised from other budgets and I am not prepared to do that.

"I eat in the canteen and don't feel that it is expensive. I do not have a proper meal, just sandwiches a drink and a piece of fruit usually, which costs around £1.60. It wouldn't be any cheaper in the shops.

"I don't mind children going to the chip shop for their lunch but I'd rather they more healthily. However this is an issue for their parents. We teach the children about healthy eating and they make their own choices."

Richard Glaisher, Suffolk County Catering Manager, said that all councils across the country are undertaking pay reviews. Catering staff earn less than others and this is now being addressed so staff are correctly rewarded. This has resulted in the difficult decision to raise the costs of school meals.

"We believe school meals are still good value for money and provide high standards of nutritional value for young people," he added.

n What do you think? Are school dinners a rip off? Write to Evening Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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