No appetite for school meal cost cut

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At a time when the subject of tax avoidance is hogging much newspaper and television headlines, amid claims that the public purse is losing out on enormous sums of cash, the price of a school meal might seem like mere crumbs from the rich man’s table.

But this subject was on the menu at last Thursday’s full Scottish Borders Council meeting (see page 7).

Tory opposition group leader Michelle Ballantyne wanted a 60p cut to £1.50 in the cost of a lunch for Primary 4-7 youngsters. Those in Primary 1-3 enjoy free meals under a Scottish Government-subsidised scheme.

However, her efforts were defeated by a 21-9 vote. Had she succeeded, this would have cost the local authority £35,000 annually.

But at the same meeting, a revenue budget of £254million was up for approval.

And is it really all about money? Surely the benefit to children should take a higher priority?

Citing the support of council catering staff, Mrs Ballantyne claimed her move would contribute to the Better Eating, Better Learning campaign. And turning to the financial side of things, she said increased uptake would reduce costs of delivery via economies of scale.

Perhaps parents, who are also council tax payers, should have a louder voice in this debate.

Food for thought indeed.