Head teachers are being forced to swap hot meals for sandwiches even for the most vulnerable due to increased food prices, cuts in funding and increasing inflation.
The i has revealed through multiple sources that the only substantial meal a vulnerable may receive each day has now been replaced by sandwiches.
Some schools have been forced to put up the price of hot meals for pupils and other schools are offering smaller portions for children amid the increase in food prices.
Last week Jacquie Bance de Vasquez, who is the director of policy and engagement at Magic Breakfast said, “Last week, at a Magic Breakfast partner school in south London, the deputy head told us that maintaining the current level of food provision in her school is a priority and she believes it is not possible to make any further cuts to either the quantity or quality of school lunches.
“So savings will have to be made by cutting their budgets for teaching and staffing.”
She added, “With even greater numbers of children and families being impacted by the cost of living crisis, this situation will become even more acute.”
Campaigners have warned about the rising food costs and families who have a post-tax income of less than £7,400 a year are currently eligible to receive free school meals.
This is “scandalously low threshold of eligibility” meaning families are getting into debt and are opting out of school meals for their children, Barbara Crowther, of the Children’s Food Campaign warned.
She added, “Every day the numbers of families struggling to pay for school lunches are increasing, whilst headteachers are reporting school meal debts are increasing.
“This means there is a serious threat to take-up of school meals and viability of catering services if numbers fall.”
A government spokesperson told the newspaper, “We recognise the pressures that some schools may face and have given them the autonomy to agree individual contracts with suppliers and caterers, using their increased core funding.
“This funding has gone up by £4bn in 2022-23 alone – a 7% increase in cash terms per pupil from last year.
“Schools also have flexibility in the food they offer, under the School Food Standards.
“If a particular product is not readily available for any reason, the standards give schools and caterers the freedom to substitute in similar foods that are available.