SCHOOL meals in Cheshire are to rise by 10p to £1.75-a-day from September.
This is largely due to demands for a healthier diet and new national nutritional standards, says the county council.
In a letter of explanation to headteachers, Nigel Argyle, head of catering for County Business Services (CBS), says some recent changes to the school meals were 'caused by issues beyond our control', such as the national media focus on healthier eating.
'Although school meals in Cheshire have always been healthy, the new Government drive for healthier eating means certain foods cannot appear on school menus, and many parents have asked for better quality products to be made available.
'CBS Catering are happy to embrace the wishes of parents, but increased quality comes at a price.'
Mr Argyle explained changes in style of service demanded by schools and parents have increased food costs and increased costs in production.
In addition the national requirement to review all jobs had led to an increase in labour costs.
Falling school roles and the requirements of new national guidelines also had to be taken into account when reviewing the selling price of a meal.
To keep the charge to a minimum, CBS Catering is subsidising every meal by 3p from the standards fund, a facility available to the service for the next two years.
The service also benefits from the EC School Meals Subsidy Scheme, which helps to keep down charges.
For cash cafeteria kitchens, new price lists will follow. The allowance for pupils who qualify for a free meal, and duty meals for teachers, also increase to £1.75.
County Councillor David Rowlands, executive member for children's services, said: 'We daily serve more than 45,000 meals in more than 300 of our schools. The service continues to set high standards with healthy eating a priority and I believe we continue to provide excellent value for money.'