26th January 2020
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Parents urged to provide packed lunches for children following kitchen staff shortage

Pupils at two West Side primary schools are having to take in packed lunches as a result of a shortage in canteen staff.

Members of the council’s education and families committee have been told of the shortfall, which is impacting on the Happyhansel and Sandness schools.

It comes because of a failure to fill a post in the Happyhansel kitchen, which provides food for its own pupils as well as those in Sandness.

Director of Children’s Services, Helen Budge, said she very much regretted what had happened, adding that “all avenues” had been explored to try to fill the post.

Meanwhile, the committee chairman, George Smith, has urged anyone interested in filling the post to come forward.

Mrs Budge told the meeting: “It’s very much our regret that we are at the stage where we’re having to ask parents to consider providing packed lunches in Happyhansel and Sandness.

“We’ve had a resignation and advertised for staff for the canteen to provide the meals, and have been unsuccessful in recruiting.”

Mrs Budge said the post was being re-advertised and staff hoped that it could quickly be filled. She said it had not been possible to recruit staff from other canteens to plug the gap.

She added staff had examined the possibility of transporting food from other canteens as well, but faced challenges in keeping the food hot enough to serve to youngsters.

“It’s a difficult situation and it’s not a situation we would want to see.

“It’s really disappointing we are in this situation, and vexing for parents.”

She insisted the schools service provided “very good quality meals,” and added she hoped the situation would be resolved as soon as possible.

Following a question by Shetland North member Emma Macdonald, the meeting later heard that parents relying on free school meals would receive an equivalent payment to help cover the cost.

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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