COUNCIL officers have said it is very unlikely that school meal prices in Fife will increase any time soon despite skyrocketing food costs.

A report to Cowdenbeath area committee on Wednesday stated that food prices have gone up by an estimated 10 to 14 per cent but maintained that school meal prices are likely safe from increases. 

“Despite those cost increases we have not increased menu item prices since August 2021 – partly in recognition that higher prices are unlikely to help household budgets and will likely result in lower sales, thus increasing the probability of increasing the financial deficit currently being experienced,” head of Facility Management, Tariq Ditta, said.

“Food prices are going through the roof. It really is hitting the service fairly hard. In terms of pricing, we’ve tried to maintain prices as low as possible but we are still experiencing large financial deficits.” 

Fife catering service’s prime objective is to provide good food within regulations and financially break even. 

However, Lochgelly and Beath high schools are both reporting upward of five-digit deficits for the previous school year. 

The two schools combined spent nearly £500,000 on services in 2021/22 but only recovered a little more than half of that amount through sales. 

“All Scottish local authority secondary schools are experiencing demanding trading challenges in the provision of meals. Fife is no different,” Mr Ditta wrote in the report.  

Prices range from £2.40 for a set meal to as little as 25p for a fresh fruit item. 

“It is highly unlikely that external providers can offer ‘authorised’ and comparable foodstuffs for similar prices,” Mr Ditta’s report said.

Fife plans to bridge the deficits by increasing the number of sales made at school cafeterias and by “improving the margins.”