Councillor questions school meal uptake after £55k drop in income

Concerns have been raised that school pupils are avoiding the canteen meals provided for them.

Questions have been raised by Shetland West councillor Catherine Hughson during Monday’s education and families committee meeting following the introduction of a standardised school menu.

A report before members showed an anticipated fall in income of £55,000 from school meals, due to reduced up-take at the Anderson High School and Sandwick Junior High.

Ms Hughson asked if the new menus were behind the fall in demand.

Director of children’s services Helen Budge said that had “to some extent” been the case.

She conceded the menu change, which was designed to offer healthier options, was “perhaps not what they would have taken”.

But she said there had been a “shift in uptake” at primary level as a free school meal programme – backed by Scottish government funding – had been introduced.

Ms Hughson added: “It’s not only about school meals. It’s about the safety of the bairns we see in Lerwick going to Tesco or the Co-op.

“It’s about how we help them to stay in school and give them something they actually want.”

Chairman George Smith insisted school meals represented extremely good value.

He said the report before members highlighted the offer of two course meals for secondary school children for £2.60.

“We’re not putting the price up, and £2.60 for a two course meal has to be good value.

“I’d hope that would be an incentive and encouragement for as many young folk to take school meals as possible.”

But Ms Hughson added: “It wouldn’t matter how much it was costing – if it was not what they were wanting to eat, they’re not going to eat it.”

It came as members recommended approval of a £54 million budget proposed for the next financial year.

The figure represents an increase of around £1.3 million on last year.

Mr Smith said it was “no mean achievement” given pressures such as an estimated two per cent pay award and an increase in national insurance.


Add Your Comment

Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.