School lunches satisfaction survey 2008

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Purpose To measure the performance of the school catering service and to help develop the service, with the ultimate aim of increasing take-up of school meals. The first piece of research went out to parents of children at primary schools that had the lowest uptake of school meals across the county. The second piece of research was an online survey of school management.
Subject School services eg meals, crossing, EPS
Commissioned by Roger Eakhurst Lancashire County Commercial Services
Geographic area All of Lancashire
Method Questionnaire - online
Questionnaire - postal
Consultation with Schools/parents/governors
Date 02/03/2009 - 31/03/2009
Undertaken by Research and Intelligence Team, Policy Unit


Number in sample 11000
Number of responses 1590
Response rate 14%
Key findings Parents survey - The majority of parents of children who take school lunches are satisfied with the service, and two in five think that the lunch service has got better over the last year. The quality and healthiness of the food are considered the most important factors for school lunches for both school meals users and non-users.

Four in ten parents whose children do not take school lunches say that the price of meals is an important factor. School meals users are generally most satisfied with the healthiness of the food and the service from catering staff. There is lower satisfaction with the choice available and the
information they receive on the service.

The people who have the main influence over whether a child has a school lunch are parents and the child themselves. The parent's preference holds more weight among users of the service, and the child's has more weight among non-users. Seven in ten service users would recommend the lunch service to other parents.

Two-thirds of children who currently don't have lunches, have had them in the past (on average around 10 months ago). The top reasons for not taking a school lunch were because the child prefers a packed lunch and for parents to know what they are eating. A third of parents also say that they are too expensive.

The strongest encouragement for parents to use the school lunch service was to make them more affordable by lowering prices or offering a price reduction if more than one child in a family has a meal.

Half of parents whose children have school lunches say that their lunch is never their main meal of the day, though two in five BME children have their school lunch as the main meal on most weekdays. Among children who have school lunches, five in six parents rated their child's lunch as at least fairly healthy. The vast majority of parents think their children's overall diet is healthy.

School management survey - Five in six respondents are satisfied with the schools catering service overall, and the majority of respondents are at least fairly satisfied with each aspect of the service. Though they were least satisfied with
the size of portions.

Respondents generally agreed that school lunches were healthier than packed lunches, and most thought that the food on offer had got better over the last year.

On the whole respondents felt that LCCS keeps them informed about what it's doing and that it delivers quality services. There is less agreement that LCCS provides value for money, as almost a third disagree.

Respondents were satisfied with the overall standard of service. Satisfaction with the friendliness of staff towards the school and towards the children is rated very high.

Schools are most satisfied with their relationship with catering staff, but are less satisfied with their support from LCCS and the ease of contacting LCCS. The most preferred interval for the school catering manager to review the school lunch service at schools was at least once a term.

Project document(s)


Contact information

For more information about this research contact:

Mick Edwardson
01772 530290