York's heads asked to do more to help parents pay for school lunches

A council report says schools should help parents find ways to pay for school meals

A council report says schools should help parents find ways to pay for school meals

First published in News York Press: Photograph of the Author by

HEAD teachers in York should do more to promote school meals and help parents find ways to help pay for them, a new report says.

City of York Council set up a task group last year to examine the uptake and popularity of school meals, and found at least 400 pupils a day whose parents or carers were registered for free meals but were not claiming them.

York's primary lunches are the most expensive in Yorkshire, at £2.25. The average in secondaries is £2.40.

The council met two Youth Council representatives from Fulford School, one who regularly took the hot food option and one who bought sandwiches.

It said they agreed Fulford's prices were very reasonable - £1.80 for a hot meal and hot pudding - but said friends at other schools were paying £2.20 for ‘just a small plate of food’.”

Fulford's cashless payment system means recipients of free meals cannot be easily identified. Such systems are seen to help tackle stigma, and let parents check what children have bought.

The youngsters said there was no incentive to choose the nutritious meals as they were "always more expensive”. Queuing for meals and not liking the food were also seen as issues.

The report, to go before cabinet next Tuesday, recommends the council write to parents eligible for free school meals, encouraging them to claim.

It also recommends the council consider acting as advisor on new arrangements and says: "Schools should be encouraged to be more flexible in when and how often parents can pay for school meals to ensure those on a low income are not excluded."

The report said cooked meals were healthier than packed lunches but many parents mistakenly thought otherwise.

Seventeen parents responded to the council's consultation. Half said the meals were unaffordable, some said they could afford them only some days, and some said the need to pre-pay in bulk was a barrier.

>>> Read the council report - item 8 on this agenda

Comments (6)

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8:16pm Sun 27 Apr 14

beerbeer says...

Words fail me. 17 responses for the Task Group. How much did this cost?
Words fail me. 17 responses for the Task Group. How much did this cost? beerbeer
  • Score: 7

11:24pm Sun 27 Apr 14

MouseHouse says...

..."let parents check what children have bought." erm, not they don't! They will tell you child A has bought a 'wrap' or sandwich - but it won't tell you if it was cheese, ham, salad etc. These are the details that tell you whether the choices made are balanced or value for money.

The system has improved from the early days but it's poor, and could do more.
..."let parents check what children have bought." erm, not they don't! They will tell you child A has bought a 'wrap' or sandwich - but it won't tell you if it was cheese, ham, salad etc. These are the details that tell you whether the choices made are balanced or value for money. The system has improved from the early days but it's poor, and could do more. MouseHouse
  • Score: 4

9:43am Mon 28 Apr 14

imassey says...

My daughter takes a packed lunch. We used to put money on her smart card but found that it was being used on more "snack" items and expensive drinks than hot lunches, so stopped.

With a packed lunch (and a family meal in the evening) we can monitor what is eaten and what is value for money. If the powers-that-be want more school meals to be eaten, they should remove the temptation of unhealthy snacks (crisps, chocolate bars, "homemade" cookies, etc) because most children will, inevitably, choose them.
My daughter takes a packed lunch. We used to put money on her smart card but found that it was being used on more "snack" items and expensive drinks than hot lunches, so stopped. With a packed lunch (and a family meal in the evening) we can monitor what is eaten and what is value for money. If the powers-that-be want more school meals to be eaten, they should remove the temptation of unhealthy snacks (crisps, chocolate bars, "homemade" cookies, etc) because most children will, inevitably, choose them. imassey
  • Score: 6

3:04pm Mon 28 Apr 14

Sillybillies says...

help parents find ways to help pay for them, a new report says.

How about parents spending less on satellite & cable TV packages, wide screen TVs, mobile phone contracts, and more on feeding their children? Better still, don't breed until you can afford to have them!
[quote]help parents find ways to help pay for them, a new report says.[/quote] How about parents spending less on satellite & cable TV packages, wide screen TVs, mobile phone contracts, and more on feeding their children? Better still, don't breed until you can afford to have them! Sillybillies
  • Score: -32

4:27pm Mon 28 Apr 14

york_chap says...

Sillybillies wrote:
help parents find ways to help pay for them, a new report says.
How about parents spending less on satellite & cable TV packages, wide screen TVs, mobile phone contracts, and more on feeding their children? Better still, don't breed until you can afford to have them!
Quite. Like many things these days, having children is seen by many as a right; but one to which the corresponding responsibilities should be either ignored or picked up by someone else - preferably the State.

I can't get a hot lunch for £2.20 when I'm at work or out and about - a Tesco meal deal is £3 for just a cold sandwich and a bag of crisps for goodness sake.

I'd be interested to know, as the commentor above intimated, how many of the respondents who said that £1.80 - £2.40 to feed their child is 'unaffordable' , are somehow still able to 'afford' any/all of: satellite tv, iphones, large televisions, running a car, holidays, tattoos, pets, takeways, cigarettes, alcohol and expensive trainers.
[quote][p][bold]Sillybillies[/bold] wrote: [quote]help parents find ways to help pay for them, a new report says.[/quote] How about parents spending less on satellite & cable TV packages, wide screen TVs, mobile phone contracts, and more on feeding their children? Better still, don't breed until you can afford to have them![/p][/quote]Quite. Like many things these days, having children is seen by many as a right; but one to which the corresponding responsibilities should be either ignored or picked up by someone else - preferably the State. I can't get a hot lunch for £2.20 when I'm at work or out and about - a Tesco meal deal is £3 for just a cold sandwich and a bag of crisps for goodness sake. I'd be interested to know, as the commentor above intimated, how many of the respondents who said that £1.80 - £2.40 to feed their child is 'unaffordable' , are somehow still able to 'afford' any/all of: satellite tv, iphones, large televisions, running a car, holidays, tattoos, pets, takeways, cigarettes, alcohol and expensive trainers. york_chap
  • Score: -60

9:36pm Mon 28 Apr 14

Citizen Cane says...

Sillybillies wrote:
help parents find ways to help pay for them, a new report says.

How about parents spending less on satellite & cable TV packages, wide screen TVs, mobile phone contracts, and more on feeding their children? Better still, don't breed until you can afford to have them!
Don't be daft, the taxpayer pays for them if you can't afford to.
[quote][p][bold]Sillybillies[/bold] wrote: [quote]help parents find ways to help pay for them, a new report says.[/quote] How about parents spending less on satellite & cable TV packages, wide screen TVs, mobile phone contracts, and more on feeding their children? Better still, don't breed until you can afford to have them![/p][/quote]Don't be daft, the taxpayer pays for them if you can't afford to. Citizen Cane
  • Score: 3

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