School dinner portions 'very small'

School dinnerEngland's young children are being served "very small" school dinners, and given limited choice despite paying more for their meals, a survey of teachers suggests.

The poll reveals that almost a third of teachers do not believe that school meals are value for money, with some warning that pupils are often being given chips, pasta and rice rather than vegetables and salad.
It also found that there has been an increase in Free School Meals - a measure of poverty - as more families are hit by economic problems.

Parents that do pay for their child's meals are facing price rises, with a 50p per day hike costing families an extra £95 per child across the school year, the poll suggests.

The survey, conducted by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, questioned around 500 school staff in England about their views of school dinners.

The findings show that nearly two thirds (62%) of teachers say the price of meals has gone up in their school or college this year. Just over four fifths (82%) said the price had risen by less than 50p, while around 17% said it had gone up by 50p or more.

But more than a third (34%) said they do not believe the price of dinners represents good value for money, while nearly a fifth (19%) said the meals were not of a healthy standard.

A reception teacher from Bradford told the survey: "The younger children pay the same price but get much less [food] than the older ones. Also they do not get the choice as this is saved for the older ones."

One person working in early years education said: "The young children often get very small portions and very limited choice. Children who come in with packed lunches eat a lot more at lunchtime."

And a primary school teacher said: "There are times that meals are good but others when they are most unappetising. There are occasions when the portion size is very small and there have been times when portions have run out."
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