Meat to come off the menu
Local education authorities are planning to take meat and fresh milk off school dinner menus in an effort to meet the #163;182 million cuts in education spending imposed by the government.
Shropshire, for example, expects to save #163;50,000 by cutting down the protein in school meals and another #163;30,000 by switching from fresh to powdered milk. The county is also thinking of limiting school swimming to the summer months only, which would save a further #163;20,000, reducing the cost of discretionary awards by #163;16,000 and chopping #163;5,000 off the school transport bill.
In Leeds, education officers are considering replacing meat with Kesp, a substitute food with a high protein vegetable content. Mr John Taylor, chief education officer, said that Kesp could be reconstituted to look like meat and it could be "very palatable" if the proper flavourings were added.
Mr John Boyers, chief education officer of Shropshire, said it was impossible to know exactly what the cuts would be until there was more information on the reduction on the rate support grant.
"At present we are expecting a cut of #163;900,000 in procurement, which includes school meals and transport," he said.
Mr Edward Britton, general secretary of the NUT, said about cuts in schools meal standards: "Is the country in such a desperate situation that these cuts are really necessary? Do parents believe that the situation is so bad that their children should suffer in this way?"
Although all authorities are affected by the cuts, some are holding fast over school meals. A spokesman for the Inner London Education Authority said this week: "We would not dream of cutting the protein value of school meals in order to make financial savings."