Schools have been urged to stock up on food ahead of anticipated shortages, accusing the government of “failing” those already facing supply disruptions.
One of the largest canteen suppliers in the UK has written to the school’s catering staff advising them to stock frozen and tinned food to ensure children are fed properly in winter.
ISS supplies 450 schools – according to an email seen by ITV, the company said the availability of food for school canteens was being affected by a shortage of HGV drivers, as well as staff shortages and delays in imports.
The email urged catering staff at schools to “top up on long-life, dried, tinned and frozen products to ensure there will always be some form of food available in the worst-case scenario”.
In a statement, the ISS said: “Our priority has always been the schools and the children whose meals we provide.
“We would like to reassure parents and caregivers that our ability to continue to provide nutritious school meals is not being impacted by the well-publicized shortage of items that the UK is currently experiencing.”
It added: “Naturally, we have contingency plans in place to ensure that there is a good supply of food. That contingency plan includes regular communication with our stakeholders during this challenging time for many schools across the country.”
The Labor and Lib Dems accused the government of not doing enough on supply chain issues.
Labor’s Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green said ministers were “burping their heads in the sand” over problems with the supply chain, which had caused petrol pumps to run dry as well as empty food shelves.
Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, has written a letter to Education Secretary Nadim Zhawi calling for an urgent meeting with school caterers, school governors and local councillors to discuss the crisis.
He said his party had heard of “hard issues” with food shortages.
In his letter to Mr Jahvi, Sir Ed criticized the government and its “shocking abduction of leadership”.
He wrote: “Across the country, I’ve heard from Liberal Democrat councilors and schools about some serious issues regarding food disturbances in our schools for our children.
“Parents have endured a lot and worked very hard during the pandemic but it seems your government has failed them again. The least you can do is ensure hot meals for their kids at their school.
“For months after you and your fellow ministers have been warned about the effects on our economy and our everyday lives, we are now seeing this reality come true. For you not to have this on your radar is both surprising and a shocking hijacking of leadership. “
Ms Green said more HGV drivers should be recruited and trained to help ease supply issues. She continued: “No school should be left without the food supplies it needs, and no child should go hungry.”
Paul Whitman, general secretary of the NAHT Headmasters Association, said school leaders were “concerned” about some disruptions with supply chain issues.
“We are not hearing widespread disruption from our members, but certainly the government needs to focus on individual matters so that the problem does not become more widespread,” he said.
A government spokesman said there was “no evidence” to suggest widespread supply issues and that schools had the flexibility to replace products if specialty materials were not readily available.
He added: “We regularly consider contingency arrangements and expect schools and catering companies to do the same.
“In the event of any disruption in supply, we will work with councils and the region to continue providing hot, nutritious meals.”
PA. additional reporting from
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /