Spotlight on School Meals - your opinions counts

Spotlight on School Meal Charges

First of all, this is not about our kitchen staff. It's about that elephant in the room - MONEY! And in today’s climate, school business is far too much about money. But the Governors and I would like your opinions on the matter. I will try and make it as short as possible - but I am sorry, I cannot make this subject particularly interesting.

The Facts

  • RMBC Catering manages our kitchens.
  • We are now charged £2.55 per meal served (regardless of the meal).
  • We currently charge parents a price of £2.05.
  • We, therefore, make a loss of £0.50 for every school meal that is paid for.
  • Until very recently, my admin team and I were under the impression that we had to charge what RMBC told us to charge. This appears not to be true. We have been told the new guide price is £2.10, which would still see us make a loss of £0.45 for every paid for meal. But it is up to the school what we charge for the meals. RMBC was at pains to point out that if we charge more than £2.10 it could lead to fewer people having school meals - but they did not offer to reduce the cost.
  • Some pupils are eligible for Free School Meals (FSMs).
  • All FS2, Y1 and Y2 children are eligible for Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSMs).
  • FSMs and UIFSMs are charged to school at £2.55, but school is funded £2.30 for each of these meals. We, therefore, make a loss of £0.25 for every free school meal we serve - FSMs are clearly not free to the school.
  • Thorogate School has to find the losses out of their budget. Out of the money we are given to educate your children.
  • As school funding is getting tighter and tighter, we need to address this cost.

Long term, we need to find a supplier that is able to provide a more cost-effective service.

On asking school leaders outsiders of Rotherham for their views, many were shocked that we were charged a figure as high as £2.55 per meal. Most charged parents the full cost of the meals. Some even added 10p.

Governors are wanting to address the situation by reducing the loss school meals create. The proposal is:

  • Increase the charge of a school meal to pupils to £2.30 immediately, which would equate to the same income as the school receives for FSMs - still a loss of £0.25 per meal served.
  • Increase the charge of a school meal to £2.55 from September 2019.
  • Investigate the possibility of changing our supplier from RMBC to a more cost-effective supplier, passing any benefits onto parents via reduced charges.

No one will like the idea of paid-for school meal charges increasing. But I have yet to speak to someone who is happy with the idea that school is having to fund school meals in this way. At a time when we are struggling to maintain staffing levels, this just seems wrong.

We would like to gauge your reaction and would request that you complete the form below. The form requests your email details so we can eliminate responses from people who are not parents of Thorogate School pupils, not for any other reason (we need to find a way using Google Forms and verify that the respondent is a Thorogate Parent without you feeling we are compromising your anonymity in a survey - sorry). Email addresses will not be passed onto any third party and will only be used internally to eliminate inappropriate respondents (not responses we don’t like!)

This survey will close on Thursday 23rd May 2019.