THE price of school meals in Wrexham’s primary schools is set to rise by 5p from the start of next month.

The hike is due to the increased cost of buying fresh ingredients and also reflects the fact it takes longer to prepare the food, says the local authority.

Leading councillors on the executive board approved the new policy at a meeting yesterday, rejecting a proposed amendment which would have seen the move delayed until April.

Free school meal provision will be unaffected but Cllr Mike Williams said he believed parents who had recently been made redundant would struggle with the increase as their children would not be eligible if they were only claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance.

“It is those who have recently been made unemployed that cannot claim free school meals that will be affected the most,” he said.

“More and more of these children will go to school with lunchboxes and very often the food in them is unsatisfactory.

“We should defer this (the decision to raise the price by 5p) until at least April in line with other authorities.”

Fellow Labour member Cllr Neil Rogers pointed out that if approved it would be the second such rise since September, but a proposed amendment to defer the increase by the pair until April was rejected.

The charge will now be introduced on February 1.

Wrexham Council is one of four authorities across Wales piloting the Appetite For Life scheme which promotes nutritious school meals and education towards a healthier lifestyle.

The council has received some funding towards the cost of the project to pay for training, scientific analysis and kitchen equipment.

But the money does not extend towards the price of buying a higher standard of ingredient to make the meals.

Cllr Mark Pritchard said: “I’m very pleased that Wrexham is leading the way in school meals.”