Angry parents say they are having to drop off food at their children’s school because “shameful” dinners are leaving their children hungry.
Concerns have been raised over the daily lunches offered at Wyvern Academy in Darlington, County Durham, with several parents voicing concerns over the state of the school meals system and calling for urgent changes to the menu. ChronicleLive reports that some families on low incomes are spending money on packed lunches to ensure their child is guaranteed a meal.
Others say they regularly drop off food at the school gates due to food supplies running out before all pupils can be fed. One parent said: “They regularly run out of food by the time it’s my daughter’s turn in the dining hall. She often texts and asks me to drop off food. She takes a packed lunch as standard now in case she can’t get a meal at school, so she isn’t hungry for the rest of the day.”
Another parent said they had started sending their child in with packed lunches due to the low food supplies and added: “This has been going on for a while. My child, along with others, are eligible for free school meals [but] now I’m having to provide her with a packed lunch.”
Several parents have told of attempting to speak to the school about the issue but say they did not receive a reply. One parent explained: “I complained about the school meals as my daughter didn’t get fed one day. They rang me and said there is always food left, perhaps she didn’t want to eat what was there as it was a healthier menu. My son comes home and says regularly that there is no food or water left when he arrives.
“When looking on the parent pay it tells you what they have had and most days they have red crosses on or just water. I often find that I have to drop food off for them if they don’t feel they can cope till home time.
“My son says there was just five pieces of pasta in his pasta pot that he ordered one day. When telling the school this they told me that it just wasn’t possible that this is true. If it isn’t enough for my children then I should give them packed lunch. I really need the free school meals as a single mum on Universal Credit.”
Several parents said the lack of food at lunchtimes is having a detrimental impact on their child’s energy levels and work rate, meaning they are unable to concentrate without a substantial meal. One parent told of their child relying on medication to maintain his weight levels and skipping meals could affect his health.
Another parent added: “I’m extremely angry over this as my child is doing exams. I think it’s important she eats. What about the children who don’t get much at home and rely on the dinners?”
Wyvern Academy was rated “requires improvement” by Ofsted at its last inspection in 2019, with a further probe due. The school said it has recently introduced menu reforms in the dining hall to make its school meals more balanced and reduce the reliance on sugary carbohydrates in line with the Healthy Schools Agenda.
A statement added: “Wyvern Academy introduced changes to ensure students were offered a diverse choice of quality food, from breakfast club before school to mid-morning snacks and healthy lunches, all made on site from fresh produce.” Headteacher Owen Inglis said changes were introduced in line with research that saw a direct link between nutrition and brain function.
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