The school starts again, but with the risk of an empty plate in the canteen

There seems to be no peace for our students, who, having finally returned to school after the restrictions due to the pandemic, risk being starved. In fact, due to expensive energy – and unsustainable bills -, restaurateurs are struggling to fill the plates of the school canteens. To explain the gravity of the situation is Carlo Scarsciotti, president of Oricon (Observatory for collective catering and nutrition): “The surge in energy bills, together with the increases in raw materials, transport and packaging materials, are suffocating the sector which, almost unique in essential services, cannot distribute the increase in costs on the final price ”, he begins. “The situation is no longer sustainable: according to our analyzes for numerous catering companies, especially SMEs, the exit from the market by the end of the year is an option more than close, because the revenues are no longer able to cover the costs of production”.

According to the latest findings of the Observatory, the electricity expenditure of the companies of the collective catering it went from 25,442,000 euros in 2020 to 245,525,000 in 2022. There was therefore an increase of 220 million euros. For the gas spending went from € 9,360,000 in 2020 to € 134,975,000 in 2022, about 126 million more. Overall, between 2021 and 2022 the incidence of the three items (electricity, gas and raw materials) in collective catering increased overall from 36% to 52% of the total costs incurred.

In addition to this already catastrophic picture, there are also the concerns of the sector for the effects that the crisis generated by inflation and reduced spending capacity could have on manufacturing – and cascading on company canteens – and on schools.

“If manufacturing companies close in January, corporate catering will be reduced again, which has already lost 1/5 of its production due to smartworking; the same goes if schools do not teach lessons due to lack of heating or the difficulty in coping with exorbitant gas bills – he says again Scarsciotti – All this could lead us back into the dramatic situation that we had to face in the pandemic, with massive use of layoffs ”.

The most conspicuous impact of this “perfect storm” would fall on the 1,100 small and medium-sized Italian companies that provide collective catering services, also in consideration of the fact that many are in a state of economic fragility after the health emergency. “The school canteen is an essential service. The canteens ensure a complete, healthy and balanced meal for children and teenagers. The Government must protect, not only the super bonuses, energy-intensive companies and construction but above all the health and food education of the little ones. Poor nutrition from adolescence will worsen health care spending in the future. We ask the government to take care of and worry about the future and to safeguard the canteens ”, he concluded Scarsciotti.

The school starts again, but with the risk of an empty plate in the canteen