Camden Council wants to bring school meals service in-house by 2030

Healthy food. Photograph: Wikicommons

Camden Council has announced plans for a new £24 million contract for a school meals provider – in what it hopes is the last such agreement before it adopts its “long-term ambition” to insource the service by 2030.

The Town Hall’s target with the new contract is to “ensure the service is better tailored to the needs of our schools, children and young people, and diverse communities”.

The current school meals contract with Cater Link Ltd is due to end in April 2025, having been in place since 2017.

The new contract is said to be on a short- to medium-term basis, with a minimum span of two years and a maximum of five.

This structure would enable the council to launch an insourced service as early as April 2027, or in 2030 at the latest.

A Town Hall report says the agreement “would give the council sufficient time to fully explore insourcing and, subject to a future cabinet decision, to insource the service [and] prepare for an orderly transition to the insourced arrangements.”

It continues: “That exploration would include considering whether and how the insourced service might benefit from establishing a strategic partnership arrangement with another local authority which has an existing in-house school meals service.”

The council “expects an in-house service to… pursue opportunities that further increase nutrition, sustainability, local employment opportunities”.

It would also allow for more inclusive school and pupil participation in the meals served.

The Town Hall also argues that insourcing school meals will have a “wider social value, including through supporting initiatives to increase the number of eligible pupils at secondary level who currently take up national free school meals from its current level of 63 per cent”.

The ambition forms part of the council’s ‘Camden Food Mission’, which aims for everyone in the borough to be eating “a healthy, nutritious, and sustainable meal every day, with good quality, affordable food that is good for them and the planet” by 2030.

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