In the debate about educational reforms nothing was said about children at primary schools being robbed of their hot meals.
But according to Councillor Cecilia Motley, who is Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for education and skills, many Shropshire primary schools will struggle to continue to provide hot meals because of an unforeseen consequence of funding changes.
The council’s Shire Services currently provides the 131 Shropshire primary schools with a schools meals service. But from April they will have to apply directly to the Government for the money.
It is being claimed that about half of them, mainly the smaller, rural schools, will not get enough money and that that will mean that they scrap school meals completely.
If this gloomy prediction is anything like accurate, it is a most unpleasant prospect which will rightly dismay parents, many of whom have busy working lives and the knowledge that their child will at least be guaranteed a hot meal is a comfort to them.
Communal meals are part of the learning process for children, educating them how to behave in such situations. There has been too a revolution in the quality of meals which offer a balanced, healthy diet, which may be absent at home.
The alternative will be packed lunches. While schools have rules about what is allowed, the teachers have better things to do than go round doing inspections.
And while communal school meals, by definition, bring the pupils together and consequently promote the school ethos, packed lunches are a very individual affair.
It now falls on the council to work with the schools to come up with a way forward which will lessen the impact of a policy which, on the face of it, will take the food out of children’s mouths.