The decision by Cambridgeshire County Council to axe school cooks and cleaners will lead to unhealthier school meals and make already low-paid staff worse off, say Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner. The decision to cut the Catering and Cleaning Service (CCS) was made by the Conservative County’s Commercial and Investment Committee on Friday 23rd February 2018, and could see the service ending by December of this year.
CCS currently provides catering and cleaning services to almost 200 schools across Cambridgeshire, employing approximately 700 staff.
Mr Zeichner said: “This is a disgraceful attempt by the Conservative–led County Council to offset cuts imposed by their own party nationally, putting children’s diet and health at risk. The provision of catering and cleaning facilities is a vital part of any school. It should not be left to commercial firms, where profit margins and cost cutting are the driving force of their decisions.”
“At the moment, CCS is providing a balanced diet to children in schools, giving them the right kind of fuel to stay focused in the classroom. What guarantees will we have that commercial firms are not going to undermine that? Also, we should remember that it is quite possible for these commercial firms to go bust, as we saw with Carillion only a few weeks ago, and then what happens to our children’s lunches?”
“Many of the problems I am dealing with at the moment stem back to cuts by the County Council, it’s astonishing. We should be asking‘what is this year’s council tax increase actually going to get me?‘ A lot less services, for a whole lot more money!”
According to Cambridgeshire’s latest annual public health report, almost a third of primary school leavers are deemed to be an unhealthy weight. There are concerns that the withdrawal of CCS could result in a less healthy diet being provided to children in school, at a time when obesity is increasingly becoming a national health issue.