Kingston upon Hull Council's leader has vowed to axe the region's pioneering free school meals service from September, arguing the move will improve food quality.
The fate of the Eat Well Do Well scheme, introduced by the Labour-led council in 2005, has been in the balance since the Lib Dems won majority control of the council in May 2006.
The initiative, widely praised by teachers and parents, received a stay of execution in March after attempts to cut funding were narrowly defeated by a Labour-led coalition. However, following local elections this month, the Lib Dems have cemented their hold on the council and plan to kill off the service once and for all at a vote today (17 May).
Lib Dem council leader Carl Minns said the £3m cost of providing free school meals would be better spent elsewhere. He challenged Hull MP and education secretary Alan Johnson to make extra funding for all schools part of his manifesto in his bid for the deputy Labour leadership.
"Labour has been spending £3m on physically providing free school meals in Hull] but not actually raising ingredient spend, which remains around 54p," he told Caterer. "Why shouldn't those who can pay do so, so we can use it to improve the quality of meals?"
The decision will mean a charge of £1.10 for primary school meals from September, although families reliant on benefit will still qualify for free school meals.
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