PARENTS are being urged to step up and provide packed lunch for their children, after a school freezer has broken down, leaving all the food supplies spoilt.

The caretaker at Harwich's Mayflower Primary School was making sure everything was in order before pupils' return to class on Tuesday when she found out the catering freezer in the kitchen was not working.

As a result of the fault, all of the school food had gone off, making it completely useless.

A replacement fridge has already been ordered, but parents are encouraged to provide their children with a packed lunch from home until it arrives.

If this is not possible, pupils can book a benefits related free school meal but there will only be cold packet lunch and not a hot school dinner.

Elizabeth Bartholomew, the school's headteacher, has said the freezer was getting old but no one expected it to break down.

She added: " We already had an e-freezer on order. There were some members of the public who think we should have planned for this but we had in effect planed for it.

" We knew that freezer was getting a bit old and at the previous finance committee we had approval from the governors to order a new one as the freezers cost thousands of pounds.

"The new freezer was supposed to arrive before the Christmas holidays but it didn’t so basically the food has been destroyed."

Mr Bartholomew has said the situation was out of the school's control and they are doing their best to speed up the replacement process.

She is also hoping the new appliance will be delivered by the beginning of next week.

She added: "We can't do anything until the new freezer arrives and even then we have got to get it to the right temperature and and reorder food.

"I just want to say a massive thank you to the parents because they have been incredibly understanding.

"The majority of them do understand that this is totally beyond our control.

"We knew the freezer was old and had prepared to replace it but no one knew it was actually going to break down."