LACA reveals cost of living & supply chain survey results

LACA has released a cost of living & supply chain survey that found the quality of school meals is at risk due to a combination of rising food costs, supply chain issues and inadequate funding for school food.

There were 168 respondents who completed the survey across England and Wales from a variety of provider types and sizes. Sixteen of these providers provided additional detail to tell us that collectively they cover 2,632 schools and 722,000 pupils daily.

LACA, the School Food People, are here to support members and the results of this survey will support our campaign to highlight the issues being experienced by all school food providers and schools and inform Governments about actions needed to protect the industry, feeding children and the jobs of the school food workforce and wider supply chain.

Key highlights from the survey:
• 90% of survey respondents reported they were experiencing food shortages and substitutions from their supply chain
• Chicken, bread and oil were the items mentioned most frequently as being theaffected by shortages
• 54% of respondents have seen an increase in the numbers of pupils opting for benefit-based free school meals since the start of the pandemic
• 40% of caterers are concerned they will no longer be able to meet the school food standards in the new academic year and 55% said that if things do not improve, school food quality will deteriorate
• If cost and supply chain issues do not begin to improve, 55% of respondents expect a decline in school food quality.

Vice chair of LACA, Brad Pearce commented, 'We'd like to thank LACA Members from across England and Wales for their responses to this full, national survey.

'The survey provides real time information about the pressures facing school food providers whether they are local authority, single-site in-house operations, MATs, arm's length or commercial caterers.

“For the first time members have told us of the impacts, post-Covid, post-Brexit and how the current cost-of-living crisis and recruitment is impacting on each of us as operators.

'With this data, LACA are now able to lobby and argue for support in terms of increased funding, ongoing inflationary increases, ring-fencing of budgets and an extension to FSM through our support for the increase of the threshold for entitlement to families on up to £20,000 per year as per the National Food Strategy.'