Councillors have voted unanimously to look at the quality and price of “inedible” and “disgusting” Fife school meals.
Lochgelly High pupil Bailey-Lee Robb, a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament, asked Cowdenbeath area committee to get officers to investigate the standard of food being served up to pupils across Fife.
Fellow Lochgelly pupil Emma Devine said the £2.20 loaded onto a card, for free school meals, does not cover the cost of a break time snack and lunchtime hot meal and bottle of water.
She said: “Pupils are going through the school day hungry. The prices of some food are ridiculous, it’s cheaper in the shops.”
Bailey-Lee added: “We have poverty in this area, pupils are going to school hungry, a young person cannot learn if they are hungry.”
Bailey-Lee claimed staff knew they could take hot meals out of the oven and put them straight into the bin because they would not sell.
He said: “We should be wanting all our pupils to stay in and have school meals but the messages, from all across Fife, are that the food is disgusting – that’s their words, not mine.”
Pupils were instead queuing up at fast food vans or heading to local Chinese takeaways.
SNP councillor Alistair Bain questioned if it may just be personal taste.
While accepting there would be differences of opinion, Bailey-Lee said: “It comes down to actual quality and how it appears.
“People wouldn’t serve it in the house but children are having to eat it at school.”
He said: “This is not an attack on the dinner ladies, it is saying change is needed, youngsters are fed up.
“We want the kitchen to have a bit of independence over our meals – Lochgelly might sell out a meal but in Inverkeithing it won’t sell, for example.”
Labour councillor Mary Lockhart talked about the pilot Easter holidays free lunches scheme where uptake exceeded expectations.
“We talk about fuel poverty and period poverty, but food poverty is the one which is most devastating and one which has most impact on education,” she said.
“Here we have people arriving at school hungry, spending money for crisps or water and not having enough for a meal in the middle of the day and going home where there may not be enough for a meal either.”
“The quality too seems to be variable. This area needs to up its game.”
Officers will investigate quality and pricing issues, including young people from the outset, and report back to the committee in October.