Page last updated at 16:51 GMT, Wednesday, 30 March 2005 17:51 UK

School meal average '48p a pupil'

Jamie Oliver talking with Tony Blair in Downing Street on Wednesday

Primary schools in Wales spend an average of 48p per pupil on the ingredients in meals, a survey carried out by BBC Wales has found.

Figures from Wales' 22 councils showed budgets range from 40p per meal in Cardiff to 69p per meal in Powys.

In England, an extra £280m over three years was announced for school meals, as TV chef Jamie Oliver's campaign reached its climax.

The Welsh Assembly Government said it took the issue "very seriously".

All 22 Welsh local authorities responded to the BBC survey, with the average amount spent on the ingredients in primary school meals being 48p.

Anglesey 48
Blaenau Gwent 42
Bridgend 44
Caerphilly 47
Cardiff 40
Carmarthenshire 51
Ceredigion 66
Conwy 46
Denbighshire 68
Flintshire 50
Gwynedd 45
Merthyr 43
Monmouthshire 42
Neath Port Talbot 46
Newport 42
Pembrokeshire 42
Powys 69
Rhondda Cynon Taf 40
Swansea 46
Torfaen 44
Vale of Glamorgan 46.5
Wrexham 51
Source: BBC Wales

A number of local authorities, including Carmarthenshire and Gwynedd, said they were actively promoting the use of healthy, locally-sourced ingredients and several are planning to increase their spending in the next school year.

The assembly government spokesperson said it has set minimum standards for school meals but does not monitor how much local education authorities spend on meals, and cannot force them to spend a specific amount.

The issue of the amount of money spent on some primary school meals came to greater prominence after Oliver's TV series Jamie's School Dinners highlighted that some schools in England spent as little as 37p on ingredients.

Handing in a 271,000-name petition to Downing Street on Wednesday, the chef said he regretted it had taken a television show to bring changes.

Promising the extra £280m over three years, UK Education Secretary Ruth Kelly said she had planned to improve school lunches when she took over the post several months ago.

At least 50p will be spent on each primary school lunch and 60p in secondaries in England.

The assembly government also said that in Wales the amount spent on ingredients was higher than in many parts of England.

A statement added: "We know that many local authorities in Wales set contract prices for school meals significantly higher than the amount of 37p for ingredients which has been widely quoted".

The assembly government added: "We know that many local authorites in Wales have already taken a lead in improving the quality and range of school meals.

"Jamie Oliver has recently praised the way that Welsh schools have taken the initiative regarding healthy school meals.

"Since the Assembly was created in 1999 we have taken the issue around healthy food and fitness very seriously."

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