School dinners we’ve had our chips (Women’s Voice 1980)



‘FOR DINNER I got eight chips and no beans and we were meant to have a choice of sausages or spam fritters. I chose spam but all I got was a piece of spam, no batter on it and I was starving so I went home and I got lots of chips and a fried egg and three sausages and beans. So that shows you the difference. (Tracey Carrol, aged 12, St Matthews School, Dundee.)

Tracey,  like many other kids, is talking about the difference between a meal and not a meal.  Many kids are not getting a proper dinner in school. The Tory cuts in education mean that Tracey has to wait till she gets home to get a decent meal.

Many other kids are not even getting a meal at all. School meals in some areas have gone up to 55p which means that many people cannot afford them. There have been drops of up to half on last terms numbers.

ln Dundee, mothers and kids are fighting back.

In the Whitfield Housing Scheme in Dundee, they started a campaign against totally inadequate school meals. Mothers picketted a school and lobbied the Dundee Council building. They are determined to win.

But its not only the kids who are suffering. By stepping up the prices of the meals, the government will turn round and say there’s no demand for meals and try to cut further jobs in schools. Most of the dinner ladies are in NUPE who fear that of the 50,000 women employed, more than half may find themselves unemployed.

Doris Lucas explains how their jobs in Northampton are under threat from the vicious Tory policies:

‘I work for Northampton County Council as a school dinner lady in a small village school. When I first started there three years ago seven of us made 240 dinners a day. When we started back after Easter when dinners went up from 35 pence a clay to 55 pence a day as part of the Tory cuts, we found ourselves required to make only 70 dinners a day, now most of the kids are bringing sandwiches. The staff was immediately cut by one with another on the way. Our hours of work have been cut as well.

The way things are going there won’t be a school meals service soon. and this at a time of growing unemployment when more and more families are too poor to provide meals at home. This also shows the nature of this vicious and petty anti-working-class government. They hit the weakest first, in this case, children, and at the same time a weak and scattered section of the workforce.

Women’s Voice 42, June 1980


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