Nottinghamshire school dinners chip away at potatoes

Potatoes and rice The humble potato is proving too expensive and being replaced by rice

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The use of potatoes in Nottinghamshire school dinners has been cut back because of the soaring price.

The county council said the cost had shot up from £91 a tonne in 2012, to £295 a tonne this year.

County Hall said potatoes would be replaced with rice and noodles, which were just as healthy.

The Meals at Home service said it would continue to offer potatoes because they were popular and cooked on a larger scale.

The poor weather meant many farmers in the UK have struggled to grow as many potatoes as usual, forcing the price up.

School dinner
  • Nottinghamshire County Council has more than 300 school kitchens
  • These provide seven million meals a year
  • It spends £5.5m on school dinners
  • A 2p rise in the cost of a single meal adds £140,000 to the total budget
  • School dinners have to meet 15 nutritional standards

Nottinghamshire County Council's Kevin McKay is in charge of catering and said potatoes would not be disappearing entirely.

He said: "Tastes have evolved enormously and we do a lot of our menu testing with children and we try and find the most popular items that they like.

"But we have maintained the roast on a Wednesday which is the most popular meal among children and clearly that wouldn't be the same without roast potatoes."

In a statement, the Meals at Home service said it had also seen an increase in costs but said customers preferred potatoes over rice, pasta and noodles.

It added: "Schools tend to make their meals on site in smaller kitchens whereas our meals are prepared in a mass production setting which makes it easier for us to make changes to reduce costs if necessary.

"We have sourced a cheaper type of potato which is more irregular in shape which we cut into the appropriate size before cooking, allowing us to keep costs down and not increase our prices for the benefit of our customers."

Caroline Evans from the Potato Council said: "The British potato industry is working hard to maintain a supply of good quality and good value potatoes following on from exceptional weather conditions in 2012.

"They are a good base for healthy meals as they are naturally fat-free, a source of potassium and a source of vitamin B6."

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