School meal fury as cuts force school to close kitchen

Lauren Capacchione with children Sara 7 and Luca 4

Lauren Capacchione with children Sara 7 and Luca 4 - Credit: Archant

ANGER has greeted the closure of a primary school’s canteen, with one upset mum claiming parents were not consulted.

The kitchen will close at Datchworth All Saints C of E Primary School from September, leaving Lauren Capacchione unhappy.

She claims to have only found out about plans to replace warm dinners with home-prepared packed lunches when she received a letter from the school.

From next term, pupils will have to bring a packed lunch to school or go home to lunch.

The 33-year-old midwife stressed standards were otherwise high at the school, which is attended by her daughter Sara, seven, and where she will be sending her son Luca, four.

She said: “It is a concern as packed lunches, I don’t think, will provide as much variety, and in the winter it is nice to have something warm.

“It is not such a problem in the summer, but my children like to have school dinners.”

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The mum voiced concerns over the impact on children who receive free school meals.

“For some of the children it will have quite an impact because there will be teasing, I imagine there will be teasing because children can be quite cruel,” she said.

The school told the WHT that interest in school dinners was waning and governors decided to close the canteen to save cash.

Headteacher Mary Willatt said the decision to stop the service had also been a result of a parent survey.

She said: “This has been a very difficult decision to make.

“However less than a third of the pupils take a school dinner.

“The amount spent on providing these meals is equal to the total spend on learning resources, ICT provision, professional training and sporting education.

“If we had not made the decision to move to packed lunches we would be looking at major changes to staff levels, class structures and cuts to the extensive curriculum from which our pupils benefit.”

Herts County Council revealed prices of the meals had gone up 5p to £2.05 per head, per day, across the county and it was aware of the school’s decision.

It is the only school to stop the service.