Lord Mann demands action by minister over kosher meal crisis in Jewish schools

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Lord Mann demands action by minister over kosher meal crisis in Jewish schools

The peer was responding to Jewish News report confirming that a second kosher caterer had withdrawn its services, leaving kids at around 20 Jewish schools without hot lunches due to a funding shortage

CYXNKA Food Lunchtime dinnertime in the canteen at a secondary comprehensive school, Wales UK
CYXNKA Food Lunchtime dinnertime in the canteen at a secondary comprehensive school, Wales UK

(Correction: Amending par 5 to remove reference to Signature Dining who continue to trade)

Lord John Mann has called for a government minister to “sort out” a kosher food crisis that has left Jewish school pupils deprived of hot lunches and eating just a bagel for lunch.

Responding to a Jewish News report confirming that a second kosher caterer had withdrawn its services, leaving parents at around 20 Jewish schools having to second their kids with packed lunches eat day, Mann raised the issue in the Lords on Thursday.

The government’s independent adviser on antisemitism said:“Lords, there’s currently some Jewish children having to survive, due to the funding formula, on a bagel every dinner time.

“Is that acceptable? And if not, which minister is going to sort it out?”

Lord Mann

London Kosher Catering had taken over the contract to provide around 20 Jewish schools with kosher meals earlier this year after previous supplier, Signature Dining, which served 18 Jewish schools, was no longer able to continue – leaving parents to send their children in with packed lunches.

But LKC they found the costs of delivering kosher meals far outstripped the funding the schools had from Government.Among the schools affected were Hasmonean Primary School, Beis Yaakov Primary School, Pardes House Primary School, Menorah Primary School, Sacks Morasha Jewish Primary School, Rimon Jewish Primary School, Mathilda Marks-Kennedy Jewish Primary School and Menorah Foundation School.

Miriam Kaye, headteacher at Mathilda-Marks Kennedy Primary school, told Jewish News that LKC was unable to provide a hot meal for less than £5.50 per child – more than £2 more than the school receives from the Government per pupil.

Health minister Lord Markham responded to former Labour MP Mann saying: “I think and hope that every child would have something more nutritious and more healthy than just a bagel.

“It is something that I will happily discuss. I’m not familiar with that particular case but it is something that I will happily take up.”Peers had been debating NHS plans over provision for school meals.

Mann also responded to a tweet by Jewish News which stated claims the price of shechita has only gone up 5p in the last 10 years, leading to questions about why the cost of kosher meals were so high.

Mann tweeted:”Raised the issue with the Minister in the Lords this morning.”

NHS plans for the National Health Inequalities Improvement Programme to review and improve the nutrition of free school meals.

But headteacher Kaye had told Jewish News on Wednesday:”We only receive £2.32p from the government per meal and LKC could not provide meals for less money. We are disappointed for our pupils that they are unable to have a hot meal at lunchtime due to the fact that kosher meal prices now make this unaffordable for providers.”

“Hot meals not only help to provide a balanced diet for our pupils, it helps them concentrate better through the afternoon. We are hoping that the government and the Jewish community find a way to support providers so they can deliver affordable meals for all.”

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