At least two secondary schools in Brighton and Hove have alerted parents to potential issues with lunches in the new year.
The message, shared by two mothers with children at different secondary schools, said that caterers were committed to providing a hot lunch but other food might not be available at break times.
It said: “We are mindful that, at the time of writing, Brexit negotiations are still ongoing and there are many unknowns.
“The government has warned schools that they need to make contingency plans in the event of food supply chains being interrupted when we reopen in January.
“We may need to tailor our menu so that we can definitely offer hot food at lunchtime but may not be able to provide food at break time.
“We will let you know once we have more information, but we wanted to bring this to your attention now so you can be prepared to provide packed lunches where possible.”
Brexit risks are on the agenda at Brighton and Hove City Council’s final full council meeting of the year on Thursday (17 December).
Councillors are due to receive a monitoring report on “Brexit resilience and planning readiness”.
The report said that schools across England were advised to contact food suppliers directly to ensure that they had plans in place.
The council said that national guidance went out to all schools last Monday (7 December).
Former councillor Emma Daniel received the alert from her daughter’s school and shared a post about it on Twitter where another parent raised concerns for children receiving free school meals in one of the wealthiest nations on earth.
Yup same message at ours. https://t.co/aCeBL1K1gt
— Emma Daniel (@huxley06) December 11, 2020
She said: “It is the poorest families that will be hit. Poorer families can’t stockpile.
“It’s all very well for the government to say there’s no need to stockpile ahead of Brexit but at the moment we don’t know what Brexit is.
“Clearly, there are going to be food issues. We’re being told don’t prepare but do expect problems. What’s that about?
“Whatever choices families make, poorer families do not have that opportunity.”
Ms Daniel said that her daughter’s school had carried out a collection to make Christmas hampers for struggling families but would not consider reducing the cost of school uniform.
She is due to present a petition calling for cheaper school uniforms, supported by more than 1,200 people, at the council meeting on Thursday.
The council said that it had been working with the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership to develop plans to cope with a potentially disruptive exit from the EU.
But the coronavirus pandemic meant that its priorities changed in March and Brexit only returned to its agenda in October.
The council’s “food cell” has plans to support vulnerable and low-income households if there is any potential disruption in January.
It has given a one-off £20,000 grant to the Sussex Food Depot to scale up its operations at the start of next year.
The depot works with the food partnership, Brighton Food Factory, Hisbe, One Church and the Gleaning Network to respond to any challenges including setting up a distribution hub.
The report said: “The Depot distribution model aims to ensure locally grown and sourced produce can be more widely accessed across the city and region while reducing onward costs to consumers.
“The Sussex Food Depot also wants to grow to support for local and regional food procurement including public services, large employers and local food businesses as well as community food projects.
“A £20,000 grant has also been allocated for purchasing food supplies if there is supply chain disruption at the beginning of the year that will directly impact on emergency food provision.
“Learning from covid suggests that any disruption to the ‘just in time’ supermarket supply chains and potential for stockpiling can mean supermarkets are able to ration and meet most demand, but that surplus food supplies dry up which impacts on the emergency food network reliant on that surplus.
“This fund is allocated to allow a quick response to that potential risk and will cover enough food for the first two weeks of January. As with the covid response, any major disruption may lead to the government intervening.”
The full meeting is due to start at 4.30pm on Thursday and is scheduled to be webcast on the council website.
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