The cost of school meals at primary, secondary schools and academies will rise from the start of the new term in September going up to £2.30 – meaning parents will now pay £11.50 a week for school food.
The price of individual food items at snack shops across the borough’s 105 schools will also rise by 4.5 per cent.
The changes are expected to bring in an extra £144,000 on top of the £3.2 million already paid for school meals. But bosses say that simply offsets the soaring cost of food.
It means Dudley will be the authority with the highest charge alongside Sandwell at £2.30, Birmingham Council at £2.20 and Staffordshire Council at £2.10. Walsall charges £2.10 with no plans to change it.
Councillor Ian Kettle, cabinet member for planning and economic development, who authorised the decision, said: “In a low inflation environment any increase will felt. But the research done by the staff and officers showed that it was necessary.
“Around 50 to 60 per cent of the increase is annual to cover inflation. There is not a great increment on top of that.
"There will be some families who will feel it, we are aware of that, but unfortunately these things need to be done.”
Former school governor Abdul Qadus, from Stourbridge, has three children in school.
He said: “It is ridiculous. It makes a big difference and is not worth the money for the food that the children get.
“This will be detrimental to families who already financially struggle. If they have five children then it will be £40 plus a week in school meals. For those prices there needs to be a better variety of choice.”
In September 2016 a 10p increase was implemented. In the council decision document for Catering, Cleaning and Caretaking Services Price Increases, it stated: “The expected income is £3.2 million therefore if meal sales remain constant the proposed increase of 4.5 per cent will generate an estimated £144k income per annum which will offset the rising costs of food and utilities.”
Pupils in Key Stage 1 are now entitled to free school meals, following the introduction of Universal Infant Free School Meals in September 2014. Pupils in Key Stages 2 and 3 may also be entitled to Free School Meals if they meet the criteria.