Newry pupils stage protest against rising canteen prices

March 25, 2019

Students from a Newry grammar school have staged a protest against rising food prices and a declining quality of food in their school canteen.

St Colman’s College pupils demonstrated their dissatisfaction after being advised by the school that caterers Mount Charles had hiked their costs, leading to the increase in canteen food prices.

Disgruntled students reacted with an immediate campaign to rouse the student body into taking action against what they say is “extortionate and completely overpriced” canteen food. 

A protest poster and Facebook page rallied students to “join the movement, fight the power” and led to a significant food boycott on Thursday last week, when the price increases were introduced.

The protest kicked off with senior students filing into the school canteen at morning break, where they sat down without buying any food.  A local mum, whose son attends the Newry grammar school said she understood that a lone pupil who approached staff to buy a drink was “booed and jeered at” by the campaigners. Senior teachers present are said to have admonished the boys for their behaviour and a meeting was set up between senior student council and the senior teachers.

It is understood that an attempt was made during the meeting to strike a meal deal option for the day which pupils did not take up on, opting to eat the packed lunches they had brought in protest. 

At school assembly on Friday morning, the senior year group were allegedly told that they had mishandled the situation and that it should have been raised with senior council members before launching the boycott.

Meanwhile, the campaign seems to have sparked a food revolution, with similar Twitter pages springing up for other local secondary schools such as the neighbouring Sacred Heart Grammar School and St Mark’s High School in Warrenpoint calling for a canteen strike – amid quips of “prices higher than our cholesterol.”

With St. Colman’s Grammar School unavailable for comment on last week’s protest, it remains to be seen whether the audacious student revolt will impact canteen prices at the school.