Parents’ anger over meat-free school meals

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Parents’ anger over meat-free school meals

Clore Shalom Primary School's new pescatarian menu, which offers fish just four times every three weeks, is "all carbs, no protein" according to concerned mums and dads.

Picture of pupils enjoying school dinners at a Primary School.
Picture of pupils enjoying school dinners at a Primary School.

Parents at Clore Shalom Primary School have expressed anger at a new “pescatarian” menu being introduced in January, saying it offers fish only four times every three weeks and is “overloaded with carbs”.

Several parents, who all wished to remain anonymous, voiced their concern to Jewish News this week after headteacher Karen Cohen told them meat was now off the menu, in what many said was a “cost-cutting exercise”.

The price of school meals at the 215-pupil Radlett school, which was rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted earlier this year, will remain the same at £2.80, but parents were concerned about “an obvious lack of protein” in the menus from new provider HCL.

On its website, HCL says it is “passionate about fresh, local and seasonal ingredients that help us to provide dishes that are not only popular with students but also comply with healthy eating standards and guidelines”.

Yet parents said its sample menu included several offerings of pasta, jacket potatoes, potato wedges, macaroni cheese, herby bread, baguettes, sweet potato slices, pizza, rice, and chips, much of it offered with cheese as a topping.

Cohen, who said she had consulted, told parents that HCL “use nutritionists to help revise their menus to ensure that pupils are offered a healthy lunch each day”.

She added that the school was “now able to offer milk and dairy foods to the menu, along with fish, eggs and other sources of protein”, with the kitchen being “deep cleaned” over the winter break, with new kitchenware provided.

Several parents were unconvinced, however. “It’s all carbs,” said one. “They’re playing it like it’s healthy but there’s no protein, it’s horrific. They tried to do this two years ago but backed down. This time they say they consulted but not with us.”

Another parent said the shift to pescatarian menus had been “a complete surprise,” adding that government legislation – specifically the Requirements for School Food Regulations 2014 – required schools to at least offer meat three times a week.

Another said: “It is worrying that cheesy pasta dishes served with additional starchy food such as potatoes seem to make regular appearances on the lunch menu.

“Our worry is that children who do not like the meat imitation products such as Quorn, which are themselves often highly processed and high in salt, will make an unhealthy choice of carbs. This is not the kind of food awareness we expect from a good educational establishment.”

In response, Cohen said: “We are aware that a small number of parents are concerned about the change… We have engaged with them. By and large we have an excellent relationship with our parent body, the vast majority of whom support and trust us to make decisions in the best interest of their children and the school.”

She added that the change itself came about because of “a prolonged period of complaints from a significant number of parents and a failure by our previous catering supplier to address and resolve problems,” praising HCL as “one of the most trusted and experienced school meal suppliers” in Hertfordshire.

“Whilst we aim to please every parent and child with the food options available each day, we appreciate that this is not always possible, so also allow an option for packed lunches, something that very few Jewish schools do.”

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: