SCHOOL dinners will be run by private contractors after Oxfordshire County Council agreed to outsource the service yesterday.

County council cabinet members agreed to include primary school meals in a multi-million pound services contract which will now go out to tender.

Melinda Tilley, cabinet member for schools improvement, gave her assurance the quality of meals would be maintained.

She said: “We will be keeping a close eye on it. I have asked that the service is the same if not better than it currently is.”

Concerns were raised that the county council’s service would not be viable if more schools opted out as they became academies.

But county council opposition leader Zoe Patrick said: “Food with Thought (the council’s meal service) is very well regarded and if it isn’t broken then don’t fix it.”

Last year, the service gave the county council a £900,000 surplus.

Currently 1.25 million meals are supplied to 180 schools a year. Prices will remain under the control of the county council and are set to be reduced from £2.10 to £2 in the new academic year.

Potential service providers will now submit their financial offers, which will be considered by the council’s cabinet at their meeting on Tuesday, March 13.