Some primary schools in Cardiff not serving hot meals because of ‘social distancing’

Roath Park, St Teilo's and Rhiwbina Primary are among the schools not providing school meals for pupils because of Coronavirus restrictions.

At least eight schools in the Welsh capital are reported to have stopped serving hot dinners.

Staff shortages and dinner halls which are too small for ‘effective’ social distancing meant that some canteens remain shut. 

Llanderyn and Marlborough primary schools are offering only cold sandwiches for pupils to eat in classrooms.

The issue was first raised during a council meeting on January 27th.  Rhiwbina Councillor Jayne Cowan asked: “How long do you think is too long for schools not to provide a hot meal?”

Cabinet member of Education Sarah Merry stated that a review would be taking place to survey the extent of cancelled school meals in some of Cardiff’s primary schools. 

It’s unclear when these schools first suspended their meal services.

With the suspension of school meals concerns have been raised about what this means for children from disadvantaged families.

Families struggling to afford weekly supermarket shops were dependent on free school meals before the pandemic.

The increase in food prices is set to only make this worse.

Whilst the council gives £15 a week in vouchers to compensate for a lack hot meals in school, parents say it’s not enough.

One parent from Howardian Primary School said that her children “have not been given hot meals since the start of the pandemic”.

One parent at Roath Primary School stated their concerns over the lack of communication between the council and the school and said there had “been no information on when this will stop”.

Another parent said: “A lot of my children’s friends at Roath Primary rely on hot school dinners. I’m pretty sure it’s the only hot meal they get.”

Having tried to contact the education board for over six months, the parent believes that the school “will not see the return of hot dinners anytime in the future”.

However, substituting warm meals for sandwiches is not a viable solution. According to Steffan Evans, head of Policy at the Bevan Foundation, “packed lunches do not have the same nutritional value as a cooked meal”. 

With nearly one in three children across Wales dependent on school lunches, a lack of nutrients in meals could mean a further increase in childhood diabetes and obesity.