Cash-strapped parents are facing another price rise as Hampshire Country Council has decided to raise school dinner prices for the second time in the same school year.
The 20p a day increase, up from £2.80, follows a 20p increase from £2.60 to £2.80 just last October.
The increase will affect parents and carers who pay for school meals in those schools which use the Conservative-run Country Council’s school meal provider, HC3S for their catering, as well as the schools themselves.
While schools are funded by the Government to provide Universal Infant Free School Meals for Key Stage 1 pupils (those in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2), this funding does not cover the full associated costs. This is also the same for the provision of benefits-related free school meals for eligible older pupils. Schools are therefore having to cover the cost from their wider funding, placing extra pressure on overall budgets.
Hampshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Councillor Steve Forster said: “Increasing the price of school meals was a very difficult decision as we are acutely aware of the cost of living pressures that continue to face households, and especially so soon after the last increase in October. However, this decision has been unavoidable due to escalating food costs and the anticipated impact of the latest national pay proposal. Government funding has simply not kept pace with these inflationary pressures.
“We know that families and schools alike are facing rising costs across the board. From our latest round of Household Support Funding – the scheme which aims to support low-income families and individuals struggling with the cost of food and fuel – we plan to provide funds to schools so they can offer grants at their own discretion to families most in need. We will continue to offer programmes of support to help those struggling with the ongoing rise in the cost of living. These include community pantries, community grants and the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme.”