Puzzled parents have been left baffled by mystery meal that has been served up to children at a secondary school in Stockton-on-Tees.
Thornaby Academy has come under fire for dishing up ‘expensive’ and ‘abysmal’ school dinners – with one furious parent saying: ‘Prisoners get better fed.’
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It comes after pictures of a lunch service were leaked, which showed a limp-looking slice of pizza being sold for £1.65.
But one of the shots has led to confusion, with the quality of the food appearing so bad it has left parents unable to work out what the meal is.
The unidentifiable snack – possibly a pudding – led one person to ask why children were being dished up ‘sausage with whipped cream and grapes?’
While another woman said: ‘This is absolutely shocking! Prisoners get fed better than this at the taxpayer’s expense, then parents have to pay for school dinners and get fed this… How is this fair?’
Photos of the school’s lacklustre lunch have since gone viral, with parents quick to vent their fury on social media.
Among the leaked snaps included an image that showed a slice of pizza – which appeared to have a bite taken out of it – with just one piece of pepperoni resting on a single slice of rectangular cheese.
And in another image, a depressing-looking pot of mac and cheese was snapped by a pupil, with bland pasta topped with a few pieces of cheese.
Some of the food being served up to pupils at Thornaby, by caters Mellors, was hard to identify – including this plate of lunch
The sorry-looking pizza was being sold to children at Thornaby Academy in Stockton-on-Tees for £1.65 – sparking outrage from parents on social media
Parents have since said their children have been left hungry in lessons by the poor standard of the food.
One mum, who has not been named, said: ‘My son is six and gets school meals. He picks the cold meal option and all he gets is two slices of bread, some filling, and a cookie as a meal.
‘He isn’t a big eater at all, but even he says that it’s not filling.’
The backlash comes as campaigners fight for higher quality school meals amid soaring rates of childhood obesity.
Some parents spoke of how the quality of school dinners has decreased since they were at school.
A father wrote: ‘I remember being in primary school about 35 years ago, and the school dinners were basic but great.
‘Mince with mash and veg, corned beef pie with veg – all basic but far better than this muck, and all made fresh, too.’
Another man said: ‘Dinners were the best back in the day – we had three options; salad, main meal, and snack.
‘We got the option of milk on a morning with a warm doughnut as well.’
While one man quipped: ‘I don’t think this is quite what Jamie Oliver had in mind.’
Currently, campaigners up and down the country are fighting for higher quality school meals for all children.
The ‘Give a Sausage’ campaign, backed by well-known culinary stars from Tom Kerridge to Prue Leith, is aiming for all kids to have access to good school dinners.
A spokesperson for the academy said it takes standards of school catering ‘seriously’ and that it will be investigating the lunchtime fiasco
They aim to do this by training school kitchen teams and reducing the amount of processed food on offer.
This comes as 60 per cent of secondary schools are failing to meet the school food standard outlined by the government in May, with one in three children leaving school overweight or obese.
A spokesperson for Thornaby Academy said: ‘The academy is disappointed to learn of a possible issue regarding its new catering supplier Mellors, as this matter had not been raised directly with the school.
‘The academy has a clear policy on the use of mobile phones by students during the day which are not allowed.
‘Thornaby Academy takes standards of school catering and compliance with food school standards seriously and will be investigating the matter in conjunction with the caterers. Mellors however, have already apologised unreservedly.’
Cost of living causes the price of a packed lunch to soar by 70 per cent
Pictured: New data shows cost of children’s packed lunches has risen by 70 per cent
The cost of children’s packed lunches has risen by 70 per cent in 18 months as the cost of living crisis continues to punish hard-hit families.
Everyday items used to make children’s lunches, including bread, ham, cheese, tomatoes, biscuit, apples, yoghurt and crisps have soared in price in the past year.
According to research by Starling Bank for the Sun, tomatoes are 146 per cent more expensive while cheese has shot up by 132 per cent.
Yoghurt has almost doubled in price while the price of bananas has risen from an average of 73p to an average of 97p as well.
The price increases mean the ingredients, popular for making children’s packed lunches, now cost a family £11.87 to buy for one week’s worth of food – a sharp increase from the £6.99 it cost in April 2021, the newspaper reports.
It comes after data from research firm Kantar revealed a £571 annual increase in the average UK household’s grocery bill, or £10.98 every week, when compared to 12 months ago.