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September 18, 2006

Jamie’s School Dinners

Tee hee hee. You’ve really got to laugh at this one:

Secondary schools across Britain could be forced to pay more to school dinner firms or risk losing their canteen operators, because bans on fizzy drinks, sweets and salty snacks in vending machines and tuck shops have hit catering profits.

Only a few weeks into the school year, some of Britain's biggest contract caterers are already complaining that pupils, unable to get what they want from school vending machines, are buying their favourite snacks and drinks at newsagents and chip shops beyond the school gates.

Catering executives have told the Guardian that unless they receive adequate compensation for abandoning junk food, they will quit schools where they cannot make a decent return.

One might almost think that the people who introduced the new rules knew nothing about how businesses work. That they had never heard of cross-subsidy, for example.

Of course any business thinking of signing a contract will look at the profits that can be made: across all of the contract, not just one part of it. High profits in one part will subsidize low profits in another. Take away those high profits and they’ll reconsider whether the contract as a whole is worth it to them or not.

Surely the better food campaigners knew this? Didn’t they? Anyone? Bueller?

September 18, 2006 in Food and Drink | Permalink


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This would be a benefit from the point of view of the food campaigners; they don't like the outsourcing of school canteens to companies like this (at least partly because of their habit of pulling fast ones like this) and would be quite happy to see them out.

Posted by: dsquared | Sep 18, 2006 10:22:47 AM

'Pulling a fast one like this'

Interesting term for a company's reaction to its contractor changing the goalposts min-contract....

Posted by: JuliaM | Sep 18, 2006 5:41:25 PM

In Monday's Telegraph:

"A group of mothers has started delivering fast food through a school's fence in protest at the campaign for healthier school meals. The parents claim they are taking action because pupils are turning up their noses at what they describe as 'overpriced, low-fat rubbish'.

"Four of them are using a supermarket trolley to make daily runs with fish and chips, pies, burgers, sandwiches and fizzy drinks from local takeaways.

"Staff at Rawmarsh Comprehensive School, near Rotherham, South Yorkshire, have called in environmental health and education officials. They are looking into whether the women are allowed to sell food without an operating licence and whether they are covered by food hygiene regulations."

This is a replay of a classic conflict situation in South Yorkshire's long history of rerunning classic conflict situations: both sides invoke unbreakable commitments to issues of fundamental principle - in this case, freedom of choice v. freedom from being fed fatty foods - so compromise is entirely out of the question. Expect the local dispute over school dinners to continue for at least a year.

Recap: "Britain's longest running industrial dispute is set to go to final appeal on the 29th January [2004] in an attempt by the William Cook foundry in Sheffield to overturn an employment tribunal decision to re-instate 37 sacked workers. The workers who will have been out on strike for a record two years and nine months first won their case for unfair dismissal last July. . . "

Posted by: Bob B | Sep 18, 2006 8:03:19 PM

Banning sweets in schools will undoubtedly help children because they'll get some exercise walking to the shop.

Posted by: Tim Almond | Sep 18, 2006 10:18:40 PM

"They are looking into whether the women are allowed to sell food without an operating licence and whether they are covered by food hygiene regulations."

Easy to get round - just deliver food they have bought to their own children. And how then would hygiene regulations come into effect, if they would not apply should these mothers be making little Johnnie & Joanna sandwiches in their own kitchens?

Something stinks here about this little spat, and it's not the waft of chips......

Posted by: JuliaM | Sep 19, 2006 11:39:25 AM

"Something stinks here about this little spat"

It surely can't be anything as crude and venal as commercial interests, could it, not in South Yorkshire, surely, where higher motives are invariably invoked?

Interviews of the leading protagonists suggested that fundamental political principles are at stake in this dispute and any suggestion of compromise amounts to appeasement, which is quite unthinkable. Think of Munich an' all that.

Mind you, the BBCR4 5pm news prog did interview the owner of the local chip shop who is working so hard during the dispute to fulfil all those orders for lunchtime chips. Of course, until the caring mothers intervened to amend for the healthy diet inflicted on the children by the new school dinner regime, the said chip shop was running short of custom at lunchtime since the children were restricted from venturing off school premises to buy food off site.

Expect this to run and run.

Posted by: Bob B | Sep 19, 2006 12:34:38 PM