The boss of one of the UK’s largest produce wholesalers has warned that school dinner portions in England could soon shrink if extra funding isn’t provided to tackle rising food costs.
As the growing cost of living crisis continues to make its impact felt across the country, with the latest data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today confirming inflation has now reached a 40-year high of 9%, Andrew Selley – the chief executive of food distribution business, Bidfood – has now warned that many schools could be forced between offering smaller portions at lunchtime and using cheaper ingredients.
He told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the situation is going to “lead to some difficult decisions for school caterers” as they are either going to have to “serve smaller portions or use cheaper ingredients”.
“This not going to be good for children,” he added.
Selley also added that baked goods are currently up to 20%-30% more expensive due to rising wheat prices – which will also impact pasta, eggs, and chicken – and this is on top of the fact that the price of sunflower oil has already “doubled against a year ago” as a result of the ongoing war Ukraine.
School caterers and other food providers said they were also acing significant difficulties amid rising food and fuel prices, and admitted that labour costs have also gone up.
Campaigners are now renewing urges to government ministers to provide free school meals for one million extra children in England to ease growing cost of living pressures on struggling families, as currently, only two in five children in poverty are eligible for free school lunches or school holiday support.
While many campaigners say they accept that food providers are face rising costs like all other industries, they believe the priority should still be to provide more free school meals.
Jacquie Blake – National Chair of LACA – the School Food People, a representative body for school food – said the situation is now “unprecedented”.
She explained: “Our budgets cannot keep up. Our members are telling us that they will be unable to meet the school food standards if funding does not increase… [and] increasingly, we are seeing children fall through the gap.
“They are not entitled to free school meals but their parents cannot afford a school lunch.”
In response to the concerns raised by campaigners and several food providers, a government spokesperson said: “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.
The first bright yellow Bee Network bus has hit the streets of Greater Manchester
Greater Manchester residents will soon start to see bright yellow double decker buses travelling the region’s streets in the coming weeks.
With exactly six months to go before Greater Manchester “brings buses back under local control”, Mayor Andy Burnham has joined a number of other local leaders in unveiling the brand-new ‘Bee Network’ co-branded buses.
In what marks the biggest change to transport in Greater Manchester for almost 40 years, according to Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), bus operator Diamond – which currently runs services in Bolton – has teamed up with Go North West to run the first franchised services in Wigan, Bolton, and parts of Salford and Bury from September this year.
Diamond has agreed to start transforming their buses into Bee Network ones from this week, with more set to appear on the roads every month.
The first bright yellow double decker bus has now hit the streets of Bolton, and is serving the number 8 route – which connects Bolton and Manchester city centre via Farnworth and Salford.
As already announced by TfGM and Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), when franchising is officially introduced on 24 September 2023, 50 brand-new electric Bee Network buses will hit the streets on day one, alongside new ‘Euro VI’ vehicles, and dozens more co-branded buses from the existing fleet.
A further 50 electric buses will then be introduced onto the network in March 2024, which is when the second part of franchising starts.
All of the 270 new electric Bee Network buses will be fully accessible, with wheelchair bays, hearing induction loops, audio and visual announcement systems, and anti-slip flooring.
Mayor Andy Burnham said the first Bee Network bus entering service is “very much the start of our journey”, and added that the scheme will “ultimately deliver a greener, integrated and more inclusive transport system that will transform how people travel around our city-region.”
Transport Commissioner Vernon Everitt also called the first bus’s introduction onto the streets as “a further significant step” towards the integration of the Bee Network and the “transformation” of public transport and active travel in the region.
He continued: “From September we’ll also have dozens of new state-of-the-art buses serving passengers in Wigan, Bolton, and parts of Salford and Bury.
“These will be the first of many across Greater Manchester that will, alongside the new lower fares – which are already increasing ridership – and improvements to travel information, improve bus travel for everyone who lives and works here.”
Featured Image – TfGM
Stockport teacher filmed ‘throwing student to the floor’ after being kicked out of his lesson
A teacher at a school in Stockport appears to have been recorded throwing a student to the floor after kicking the child out of his lesson.
In the clip that began circulating on social media last week, a pupil from Harrytown Catholic High School can be seen being escorted out of a classroom by a teacher whose identity is yet to be released.
After an inaudible conversation takes place in the doorway as the student presumably tries to remain in the room, the teacher can then be seen grabbing the young student and pushing him out of the doorway.
Following a slight struggle, the teacher then seemingly pushes the child again, at which point he appears to fall to the ground and the video cuts out. The caption reads: “This is how teachers at Harrytown Stockport treat their pupils. Justice for Oliver”.
At this stage, it still remains unclear whether Oliver (whose age is yet to be confirmed) was intentionally thrown to the floor or simply fell following the momentum from the push.
Either way, it doesn’t look good and obviously hasn’t gone down well with students or their guardians
Harrytown is a secondary school in the Stockport village of Romiley, teaching children aged from 11-16, and was awarded ‘Good’ by Ofsted in its most recent rating. However, many parents now have found themselves in the comments slamming the institution.
One mother claimed that “a teacher pushed my child in that school, they denied it [and] my kids been out of school since”, with another alleging that “the girl that videoed it got excluded for 5 days”, adding that they went on to send it to Manchester Evening News.
Speaking of the MEN, as per a statement issued to the outlet, Interim Director of Children’s Services and Director of Education for Stockport Tim Bowman said: “We are aware of an incident that took place at the school and we are following all appropriate due processes. We cannot comment further at this time.”
As for the school itself, they also insist that they are aware of the video and are now investigating the situation but cannot provide any further information either.
Oliver’s family are also yet to issue any form of comment following the incident.