Prices in some canteens are rising, the Education Ministry says schools will ensure meals remain affordable

SINGAPORE — Almost every day, Primary 4 student Jody Seah buys slices of fruit from her school canteen, but recently those treats have left the 10-year-old’s wallet increasingly light.

Watermelon slices that used to cost 30 cents each are now 40 cents, and dragon fruit slices are now 60 cents each, double their price last year.

His mother, civil servant Jeslyn Seah, 39, said she had not yet had to increase her child’s $2 daily allowance – but was aware food prices were rising.

“With the rising cost of oil, electricity and other things, food price increases in canteens are imminent,” she said, referring to the impact of factors such as as the Russian-Ukrainian war and supply chain disruptions.

As costs rise at home and abroad, the Ministry of Education (MOE) recently revised school canteen pricing guidelines, it said on July 2.

The last revision dates from 2018.

The guidelines aim to keep school canteen food affordable while providing vendors with an adequate income, he added.

Schools are encouraged to adjust their canteen prices regularly to reflect underlying cost while keeping options affordable, the MOE said.

“Canteen vendors who feel their food prices are unsustainable can approach the school with proposals, and schools will assess these requests in accordance with the guidelines,” he added.

Checks by the Straits Times revealed that food prices had risen slightly in some primary and secondary schools and colleges.

An elementary school canteen raised the prices of ban mian – a noodle dish – from $2.70 to $3, and Western dishes from $3 to $3.20.

Parents are watching this development closely, saying the increases are manageable for now.

Mr. Mohamad Syahid Arif, 41, said, “My nine-year-old son is receiving financial assistance from the Ministry of Education, so for now everything is fine, but any increase will impact our daily budget.

His family of four spends about $700 a week on food and groceries, and his wife, an assistant service manager at a bank, is expecting another child soon.

The couple also takes care of her brother, who has special needs.

He added: “We can give my son some extra pocket money if he needs it, but I’m still concerned about the price going up.”