Sep 6 2012 by Hannah Bewley, Harrow Observer
PARENTS are fuming after sending their children back to school knowing they will not be fed hot meals anymore.
Parents at Our Lady of Grace Junior School in Dollis Hill Lane, Dollis Hill, were shocked to receive a letter from the school on the last day of the summer term saying it would be terminating the dinner service for financial reasons.
Under the new system, children who are entitled to free school meals are given a sandwich, but all other pupils must take a packed lunch.
Mother-of-two Abigail Impraim, 32, has one son, Nathaniel, at the junior school and another, AJ, at the infant school.
She said: “Many of the parents are not happy about this, especially in the winter – you don’t expect to have sandwiches when it’s cold.
“I am really upset. The school is quite good when it comes to raising money so I don’t think that would have been an issue.”
The school kitchen also provided meals for St Joseph’s Catholic Primary, in Chatsworth Avenue, Wembley, which is now sourcing hot meals from elsewhere. The infant school at Our Lady of Grace still provides hot meals.
Catering company ISS held the contract and had to let seven dinner ladies go, one of whom had served the school hearty fare for more than 30 years.
Sheila Danaher, 65, from South Harrow, worked at the school for 18 years and said she was relieved to find a new job at a school in Pinner after having served Brent schools since 1977.
She said: “One of the ladies had been there for 31 years and I had been there 18 years, but we are all in different places now. We have never had anything like this before. Usually they just transfer the services, so this was a real shock.”
A representative for the GMB Union, Mary Turner, has fought to arrange new jobs for the staff with ISS and is concerned that the changes could lead to segregation among the pupils who have free school meals.
Many other parents have spoken out against the decision and are furious they were not consulted.
They also made it clear they would have been willing to pay extra to keep the service, which provided spaghetti bolognese, cottage pie and curries and cost parents about £8 a week.
Solomon Okorefe, a father of children at the school, said: “I am extremely appalled about this, like a lot of parents. We would have been happy to pay a little bit extra to keep that consistency for our kids. Ultimately, it is the kids who suffer who aren’t getting a hot meal.”
He added: “My son loved the food and the dinner ladies loved him as he would always eat everything and they were happy to give him seconds. They know my son very well.”
We contacted the school for a comment but it failed to respond.