As U.K. schools reopen for the autumn term, caterers are warning that children could be faced with smaller lunch portions and lower-quality dishes as the country’s cost-of-living crisis bites.
Rising food and energy costs are exacerbating existing challenges for school caterers, pushing many to “tipping point” and forcing schools to make “difficult choices” between heating classrooms and heating meals, food charities have said.
The price of energy has increased rapidly in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and amid wider supply constraints. It has led Britain’s energy regulator to raise the annual cap for domestic energy bills by 80% last month, and costs are also expected to surge for non-domestic properties like schools and hospitals.
The uptick is piling the pressure on school budgets — and catering stipends especially — which are already stretched amid higher labor costs, ongoing supply chain disruptions and the aftermath of Covid-induced school closures.