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Home / Latest News / New way to buy meals at schools

New way to buy meals at schools

Changes to the way school dinners are paid for are being brought in across South Wales in an attempt to end bullying and the stigma children face when claiming free meals.

Parents in the Vale of Glamorgan are being invited to give their views on a “cashless catering solution” for school meals, which is set to be introduced from next month.

The new system will mean the current practice of paying for school meals with cash in schools will be phased out. Instead, payments will be made by telephone, online or via Pay Point.

It will provide administrative savings for the council and mean children who receive free school meals will no longer be identified by their classmates.

Similar systems have been, or are being, introduced in Cardiff, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Caerphilly and Merthyr.

The move has been welcomed by Cardiff’s Labour councillor Ramesh Patel, who has long campaigned for such a system to be introduced.

Coun Patel slept rough behind a derelict house in Riverside for three months as a toddler after his family emigrated to Cardiff in the 1960s. And although he was entitled to free meals at Fitzalan High School in Leckwith, he would slip home at lunchtime to avoid being seen to claim free meals.

“Children will often go hungry because they want to avoid the stigma, which is more hurtful than anything else,” he said.

“When I was a child, I would go home rather than have free school meals. I told my parents that I didn’t like school meals.

“A cashless system removes the stigma and should be introduced across South Wales.”

Cardiff council said its secondary schools were moving towards providing a cashless payment system.

A cashless system has already been introduced in Caerphilly, where pupils load money on to a special card.

A card system is also in place in schools in Merthyr, while a pilot project to allow online payments has been introduced in most schools in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

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