‘Like prison food’ School forced to apologise for ‘disgraceful’ £3.50 Christmas lunch

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Food is an integral part of British culture, with the Christmas dinner scene from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol an ideal for us all to aspire to. But a much-criticised lunch served this week at a school in West Sussex was more Oliver Twist than A Christmas Carol.

Steyning Grammar School served its pupils what appears to be dry bread, unappealing turkey (and not very much of it), a single pig in blanket and a tiny morsel of stuffing.

For pudding (and the pupils certainly won’t have been filled-up by the main course) there ears to have been a choice between a mince pie and a Cadbury’s Mini Roll.

All that came with a cost of £3.50.

Unsurprisingly, parents were quick to complain to the school and to Bohunt Education Trust which runs it.

One father, Ciaran Walsh, wrote on Twitter: “Thanks for the Christmas lunch served to our kids at Steyning Grammar yesterday, really filled them with festive cheer!”

Gail Asche wrote: “That’s the saddest excuse for a Christmas lunch I’ve ever seen.”

Will Quince MP also mustered into the debate, noting: “This is clearly not acceptable…

“We expect all schools, including academies, to comply with our mandatory School Food Standards that promote a healthy, balanced diet – not just at Christmas but all year.”

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For Kate Burton, quoted in the Telegraph, the lunch was ‘disgraceful’.

She said: “£3.50 for a roll, one bit of turkey, small bit of sausage and a bit of stuffing! And there was nothing else available for those who didn’t choose Christmas lunch.”

Others have highlighted that the offering “looks like prison food”.

The school apologised for the lunch, pinning the blame on supply issues and Covid.

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In a statement, it said: “The Christmas lunch served to some students yesterday was clearly not in line with the high standards we set for our school caterers, and we apologise unreservedly for this.

“Due to a combination of unforeseen supply chain issues and Covid-related staffing shortages, our planned lunch was affected at very short notice.

“We have now investigated this isolated matter fully and have apologised to all students and parents affected, together with providing a full refund.”

Mr Quince said he was “glad to see the school has apologised and offered a refund”.

But others saw this as being too little, too late.

‘LucyD Mama/MAMA’ wrote: “A refund is not the point is it. Being offered that rubbish is.”

Reports from parents suggest that the Christmas lunch offering made by the school in 2019 was far more up to scratch, featuring turkey, stuffing, pig(s) in blanket(s), roast potatoes, carrots, peas, cranberry sauce and, of course, gravy – and again for £3.50.

Parents will likely now be keeping an eye on the school’s performance when we get to Christmas in 2022.

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