A 10p charge to primary school kids for a portion of milk has been scrapped by Argyll and Bute Council.
Councillors agreed to remove the charge, which has been in place for six years, at a meeting of the full council on Thursday.
With the roll out of free school meals in primary schools beginning after the summer holidays, the council’s catering and cleaning service took a second glance at the policy.
Healthy food in schools
Officers identified that the charge will “no longer deliver significant income for the council” with the adoption of the Scottish Government’s new healthy food in schools guidance.
Councillor Jim Anderson said: “I welcome this paper. It’s the way forward.”
He also asked if the new healthier menus introduced as part of the free school meals roll-out were discouraging kids from using school meals.
Ross McLaughlin, head of commercial services, said: “The new menus came into effect in April as part of new requirements to keep kids healthier by reducing sugar, salt and some red meat.”
‘As high as possible’
He said council staff would be working with pupils to make sure the uptake is as “high as possible”.
The decision to remove the charge for milk will cost the council in the region of £21,700 a year.
A 10p fee to all pupils who paid for a school meal and wished to have milk with it was introduced following a budget decision in 2015.
The council said the move was to offset the higher than average costs it paid for milk provision. It was expected to bring in £30,000 a year.
Later, in 2017, the authority decided to extend the charge to all pupils in primary schools whether they received free meals or not.
Decline in uptake
The extension was expected to generate an extra £10,000 a year.
In real terms, due to a decline in the uptake of milk arising from the charges, the additional income generated in 2019/20 was £21,700.
In a report put before the council, Jayne Jones, commercial manager, wrote: “Removing the previously applied charge of 10p per portion of milk would derive benefits for pupils, parents, catering and education staff and for the supply chain, and in light of recent Scottish Government policy changes it is anticipated that the removal of this charge would provide wider benefits to stakeholders.”