Confused parents have been baffled by a mystery meal served to children at a secondary school in Stockton-on-Tees.

A Thornaby academy has come under fire for serving “expensive” and “horrendous” school lunches – with one furious parent saying: “Prisoners were fed better”.

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It comes after leaked pictures of the lunch service showed a limp slice of pizza being sold for £1.65.

But one of the shots led to confusion: the quality of the food was so poor that the parents could not tell what the food was.

The unknown snack – possibly a pudding – prompted one person to ask why the children were being served “sausage with whipped cream and grapes?”

While another woman said: “This is absolutely shocking! Prisoners are fed better than that at taxpayer expense, then parents have to pay for school lunches and get those meals… How is that fair?”

Photos of the lackluster school lunch have since gone viral, with parents quick to vent their fury on social media.

Among the leaked images was an image showing a slice of pizza – which appeared to have been bitten off – with a single slice of pepperoni resting on top of a single slice of rectangular cheese.

And in another image, a student grabbed a depressing pot of mac and cheese with soft pasta sprinkled with a few pieces of cheese.

Some of the food served to students in Thornaby at Mellors Catering was difficult to identify – including this lunch plate

A luscious-looking pizza was sold to children at Thornaby Academy in Stockton-on-Tees for £1.65, sparking outrage from parents on social media

A luscious-looking pizza was sold to children at Thornaby Academy in Stockton-on-Tees for £1.65, sparking outrage from parents on social media

Since then, parents have said their children have gone hungry during lessons due to poor nutrition.

One mother, who has not been named, said: “My son is six years old and he goes to school. He chooses the cold food option, and only gets two slices of bread, stuffing, and a cookie as a meal.

“He’s not a eater at all, but even he says it’s not filling.”

The backlash comes as campaigners fight to improve the quality of school meals amid a sharp rise in childhood obesity.

Some parents talked about how the quality of school lunches had gone down since they started school.

The father wrote: “I remember being in primary school about 35 years ago and the school lunches were simple but delicious.

“Mince with mash and vegetables, corned beef pie with vegetables – everything is simple, but much better than this time of year, and everything is fresh.”

Another man said: “The lunches were the best of the day – we had three choices; salad, main course and appetizer.

“We also have a milk option in the morning with a warm donut.”

While one person quipped: “I don’t think that’s quite what Jamie Oliver meant.”

Campaigners across the country are currently campaigning for better school meals for all children.

Backed by culinary stars from Tom Kerridge to Prue Leith, the Give a Sausage campaign aims to ensure all children have access to good school lunches.

A representative of the academy said that she

A spokesman for the academy said it takes school meal standards “seriously” and will investigate the lunchtime fiasco

They aim to do this by training school kitchen teams and reducing the amount of processed food on offer.

This comes as 60 per cent of secondary schools do not meet school meal standards set by the government in May, and one in three children who leave school are overweight or obese.

A spokesman for Thornaby Academy said: “The academy is disappointed to learn of a possible issue with new caterer Mellors as the matter has not been raised directly with the school.

“The academy has a clear policy regarding the prohibited use of mobile phones by students during the day.

“Thornaby Academy takes school food standards and compliance with school food standards seriously and will be investigating the matter with the caterers. However, Mellors has already issued an unconditional apology.’

The cost of living is causing the price of a packed lunch to soar by 70 percent

Pictured: New data shows that the cost of children's packed lunches has increased by 70 percent

Pictured: New data shows that the cost of children’s packed lunches has increased by 70 percent

The cost of packed lunches for children has risen by 70 per cent in 18 months as the cost of living crisis continues to punish hard-hit families.

Everyday foods used to make children’s lunches, including bread, ham, cheese, tomatoes, biscuits, apples, yoghurt and crisps, have risen in price dramatically in the past year.

According to research by Starling Bank for the Sun, tomatoes are up 146 per cent in price, while cheeses are up 132 per cent.

Yoghurt almost doubled in price, while the price of bananas also rose from 73p to 97p.

The price hike means the ingredients popular for making children’s packed lunches now cost a family £11.87 a week’s worth of food – a sharp increase from the £6.99 they cost in April 2021, the newspaper said.

It comes after figures from research firm Kantar showed an annual rise in grocery bills for the average British household of £571, or £10.98 each week, compared to 12 months ago.

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