Asked to pay for school lunch when she has packed lunch from home....

(53 Posts)
Babedestiny Mon 14-Jan-13 13:14:30

I had to pay outstanding fees for school lunch which i wasnt aware of until i got the letter.Went to the school toask and was told that every child will be asked whether they want to have school dinner and my dd said yes and i had to pay because she said so.But what i didnt undertsand was she had packed lunch from home everyday and i had never requested for her to have school lunch.How could the school go according to what the child said.Their answer was they cannot check every child who has packed lunch from home and goes according to what the kid say.So did she had both lunch on that day then?
Got really angry with the lack of communication the school had.Did anybody had this problem before or is it right for the school to do that?
I really dont know what the system is as its my first one in school?

DSM Mon 14-Jan-13 13:16:54

How much was it, the full year or one day?

This doesn't really make sense - your DD had a packed lunch but they asked her if she wanted school lunch, she said yes but did she have it?

ilovepowerhoop Mon 14-Jan-13 13:18:31

I think you need to remind your child that she has a packed lunch and tell her not to request a school dinner. The kids at our school are asked in the morning whether they have a packed lunch or are having a school dinner and dd has only said she is having a school dinner on one occasion when she has already taken in a packed lunch. I had to pay for the school dinner when I went to collect her from school. She brought the packed lunch home with her. Did your lo not bring an uneaten lunch home with her?

vigglewiggle Mon 14-Jan-13 13:19:20

Are you sure they meant that they ask the children themselves- that sounds very odd! I would have expected them to have sent a letter before your child started at school. You would sign to say you wanted school dinners and were intending to pay. That is how it works at DDs' school. Are you sure you didn't originally request dinners?

How old is your DD?

kilmuir Mon 14-Jan-13 13:21:45

I have never encountered a school where they ask if children want a hot dinner. Every school my children have been at , we have to pay for the meal a week before

frasersmummy Mon 14-Jan-13 13:25:16

vigglewiggle does that mean you are locked into one or the other at the beginning of term... what happens if your child fancies a change

when the register is taken our kids tell the teacher if they are a packed lunch a school dinner (what option no for school dinner) or if they are going home for lunch on a daily basis

did your dd bring her packed lunch home with her op

ilovepowerhoop Mon 14-Jan-13 13:25:18

at our school the children can choose each day whether they want a school dinner and then they pay for it on the day. They have dinner cards that they can top up with money and then use them to pay for their school dinner. We dont have to decide in advance whether they are having school dinners/packed lunch as they can have them as and when they want.

FestiveWench Mon 14-Jan-13 13:25:41

what was happening to her packed lunch?

Presumably it wasn't coming home uneaten or you'd have figured out what was going on. So was she having two lunches or was someone throwing it away?

givemeaclue Mon 14-Jan-13 13:27:49

Mine get asked each day if they are packed lunch or school dinner, we get charged for the dinners they have. Means we can decide on the day.
My dd did say that one day she couldn't remember so teacher told her to go and check whether she had her lunch bag, which she did.

overthemill Mon 14-Jan-13 13:32:50

at the school i teach at (yrs 5 - 8) children are asked each morning and numbers sent to school kitchens so we don't have waste. you can pay each day if you want ad hoc like this or in advance or at end of half term. it seems a good idea to me but i understand that for littler ones might be tricky

Suffolkgirl1 Mon 14-Jan-13 13:36:39

Whilst they prefer us to pay on a Monday for the whole week the children are asked each morning, either packed lunch, dinner or vegetarian dinner. The juniors are expected to answer in Spanish!
(DS now year 10, remembers very little Spanish as he doesn't do it at his secondary but could still order his lunch!)

DeWe Mon 14-Jan-13 13:38:28

Both infant and junior schools my dc go to ask the children. In the infant school it os done by the week and each child answers the register with "pack lunch" or "school dinners" on Monday (or 1st day they're in school). At the juniors they say per day.

If they said the wrong one then I'd be more cross with the dc than the school.

thesnootyfox Mon 14-Jan-13 13:44:18

What a daft system I expect a lot of the younger ones wouldn't have a clue what to say. In our area you have to give half a terms notice to alter the arrangements and it has to be in writing from the parents.

YouCannotBeSirius Mon 14-Jan-13 13:47:24

Our school asks the children at morning registration so that they know how much food to order. This is double checked by the kitchen staff ticking names off the class lists as the children line up for school dinners. It's a large primary school but they still manage to get all the names.

If there are no further checks being made at the OP's school, what's to stop people from doing the opposite to the OP's dd? It would be easy to say they were having packed lunch but then have a school dinner instead.

If no-one ever makes an official complaint about this system, the school will think the system must be a success.

vigglewiggle Mon 14-Jan-13 13:49:11

Frasers We need to give two weeks notice to change form one to the other. They did have an issue with people chopping and changing and consequently a lot of waste.

DSM Mon 14-Jan-13 13:51:31

This is all a bit odd. You have to let the school know in advance what kind of lunch your child will be having? I wouldn't be bothered with that.

At DS's school, you go in with a packed lunch or £1.75. At lunchtime, you either go to the dinner hall or the packed lunch room. If you have neither, the child gets a lunch and you get a note and send in £1.75 the next day.

All very easy, simple and convenient.

Why on earth they need to know in advance, I have no idea.

haggisaggis Mon 14-Jan-13 13:52:18

Every Monday we fill out a little form which has child's name, days of week, dinner choices and a column for pack / home - and a total box for money enclosed.

The teachers check every day that the actual dinner choice is OK but at least there is written confirmation if a dinner is required.

Our school is organised like DSM's - no hassle.

The kids are asked in the morning which lunch they prefer: blue/red/green tray. That's that.

How much/many days were you asked to backpay?

SamSmalaidh Mon 14-Jan-13 13:58:09

I think it's a bit much to expect a 4 year old in their first term at school to answer a question about lunches correctly - teachers should be checking.

If I was the OP I wouldn't pay. Say you never asked for school dinners, your DD had a packed lunch which she ate, so you have not entered into any agreement with the school to pay for dinners.

taketheribbon Mon 14-Jan-13 13:58:52

At our school you have to say at the beginning of each half of term. The reason given is that the catering staff have to know to order the right amount of food in. Makes sense in a way, although I must admit, I wish we could just choose on the day like DSM's school.

AngelsWithSilverWings Mon 14-Jan-13 14:00:17

This happens at our school too. My DCs never have school dinners. They have a packed lunch every day but every now and then I get a note telling me that I owe dinner money. This happens even though you have to pre order school meals a week in advance.

What annoys me is that the receptionist always blames the child and never accepts that the teacher may have made a mistake in the register.

I then get the "well on this occasion we will waive the charge " response. It really winds me up!

hillyhilly Mon 14-Jan-13 14:00:42

I got charged by mistake once for my dd, however, my niece ate packed lunch and school dinners for a whole week once before her mother realised when she got the invoice!

Babedestiny Mon 14-Jan-13 14:32:06

Sorry for the late reply..i didnt expect so many response at one go.Ya it was only for a week.I didnt mind paying but i was worried that we as a parent wasnt informed about it...What if it had gone on longer..My dd was blamed as a result.She is 5 by the way.I didnt know this would happen.So will definetely teach her from now on..

I received the letter after 3 months so i couldnt remember...about the packed lunch whether she had finished it or not.But she has never bring it back as it was..This happened in october last yr when i went to check the dates.

At the beginning of the term, i was informed that we would have to pay and inform the reception before they can have the sch lunch..which i havent until now. But she was still allowed to have it.

Anyway, Feel much better after knowing i am not the only one.Have left a clear note to the reception now about not letting my dd have anymore school lunch even if she request in the future.Hope that clears the lack of communication...

Thnak you so much for replying and giving

DSM Mon 14-Jan-13 14:36:50

Well you better make double sure event day that her packed lunch is in her bag since you've left a note categorically stating she is never to be fed by the school!

DSM Mon 14-Jan-13 14:37:04

*every day

FestiveWench Mon 14-Jan-13 16:32:51

I still want to know what was happening to her sandwiches...

ilovepowerhoop Mon 14-Jan-13 16:36:03

if it was back in October then no wonder you cant remember it. Maybe they have got confused between your child and another one especially if she brought home an empty lunch bag every day that week. Has she ever had school dinners?

BooksandaCuppa Mon 14-Jan-13 17:31:08

I can't understand how you could cater for it on the day itself.

Ds's old primary it was ordered a half term at a time and paid for in advance. Mind you, the catering company is providing food for about 20 or so schools across a large-ish rural area; I suppose if it was cooked on site it would be easier to go day-by-day but still not sure how they would know how much stuff to buy in?

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 14-Jan-13 17:36:42

I wouldn't pay

There may be many children who want a school dinner but maybe for financial reasons their parents find it more economical to send them with a packed lunch.

Give my ds a choice of a sandwich or pizza and I know which he'd choose.

Tell them to send the bill to your child but they don't actually have any means to pay for it!

Hulababy Mon 14-Jan-13 17:37:08

At my school we ask children (Y1 and Y2, reception done slightly different I think) at registration time - school dinner meat, school dinner veg, school dinner Halal or packed lunch. It is then recorded on the register for the cook.

We never go and check this. That is for the child to know and answer. If they are unsure we send them to go and check if they have a packed lunch with them, but still leave to them. We really don't have time to go and check all their lunches that is for certain/

DSM Mon 14-Jan-13 17:39:39

booksandacuppa - they'd cater the same way any restaurant/cafe/bistro does. You forecast potential sales and cater as such.

SamSmalaidh Mon 14-Jan-13 18:19:32

I would just refuse to pay if school asked children to decide what they wanted each day and sometimes they made the wrong choice. If the school make an agreement with a 5 year old, then get them to pay! If they want me to pay, they better make sure they have an agreement with me grin

BooksandaCuppa Mon 14-Jan-13 20:11:14

But surely much, much easier to just book them in advance; then there's absolutely no waste and then the costs can be as low as possible...think lunches were £2.75 a day at ds's school (he never had them; far more expensive than pack-up) but would surely come in at even higher prices if there's wastage?

ilovepowerhoop Mon 14-Jan-13 20:29:33

Our lunches range from £1.75 to about £2 depending on what foods they choose (done cafeteria style). My 2 choose the night before whether they want a school dinner the next day. Dd often chooses a school dinner and ds only goes on the day they have beans on toast! (Once every 3 weeks)

BooksandaCuppa Mon 14-Jan-13 20:34:30

Lots of choice then (and possibly still a lot of waste?) Ds's school only had one choice (and one veg) but it was always proper full dinners with a pudding. Like I said he never had them anyway.

DSM Mon 14-Jan-13 21:43:35

DS's school only charge £1.75. No idea about waste but I can't imagine it would be any different to any other catering business. No restaurant, bar, cafe, hotel, ice cream van, chip shop, mcdonalds... knows how many people will be coming in advance.

It's basic business! You forecast and cater accordingly. You don't have 'waste' as you either use the food the next day or only make so much of something.

It's the same in all schools - even these odd ones where you have to tell them if you are having a lunch in advance. Not every booked-in child is there every day - waste. And don't they have options? DS's school have 3 options every day.

Rhianna1980 Mon 14-Jan-13 21:53:06

What happened to her packed lunch ? Wasn't she supposed to be eating it ? If she wasn't , u must have noticed that she was bringing it back and sth was wrong ?

BooksandaCuppa Mon 14-Jan-13 22:02:57

No, if the child is off sick and you don't phone the catering company directly (not school) before 8.45 you don't get a refund and so they still get paid (it's all paid half a term in advance). No, no choice. Very small school. But my point was that the more waste, the more cost will be passed onto the parents (which although obviously the same for any cafe or restaurant, that's a one off treat, not an everyday occurrence so you'd expect the costs to be kept as low as humanly possible, I would have thought).

Anyway, not entirely sure why I'm bothering to talk about this (not being sarky to you; being bemused by myself!)'s not entirely relevant to the OP. Just had never heard of a school running things in the way of the OP's school. All the schools around us ask for payment and booking either one or two weeks or a full half-term in advance. No asking the children what they're doing or taking cash in on the day...never heard of it, that;s all!

neverputasockinatoaster Mon 14-Jan-13 22:06:09

At the school I work in we take a dinner register at morning registration - children say dinners or sandwiches. If the answer they give seems out of character we would check.
When the littlies start they have visits and we go through the system with them and their parents.
At my DC's school meals have to be chosen a week in advance. Luckily both mine ar fussy eaters and take a packed lunch!

Fuzzymum1 Tue 15-Jan-13 13:22:08

Our school has a menu with two choices - one labeled red, one green. Each morning the 'dinner register' is done after the normal register. The children are told what the options are and then then answer 'red' 'green' or 'packed lunch'. If they order a cooked dinner they are given a cooked dinner and the parent is then asked for payment. It's done exactly the same from reception to year six and rarely if ever causes a problem.

AThingInYourLife Tue 15-Jan-13 13:26:47

"If the school make an agreement with a 5 year old, then get them to pay! If they want me to pay, they better make sure they have an agreement with me."


CocktailQueen Tue 15-Jan-13 13:29:32

At our school children are asked at morning register if they're having packed lunches or school dinners, the teacher marks it down in the register book and it gets taken to the school office/the dinner lady. You do have to pay in advance, though. IME teachers get used quite quickly to who has packed lunches or school dinners, and they will query it.

wigglywoowoo Tue 15-Jan-13 14:02:32

I've never really thought about the waste side. DD is school dinners and once or twice a week on random days I will send her in with a packed lunch. School have never questioned it or said that I need to do it on set days. They do ask the children each morning, if they are school dinners or packed lunch though, so there may be lots of swapping and changing going on.

We have to say in advance which days they are going to have school dinners, but then they completely ignore it and the children say on the day which they are having and order their choice. We did have a few problems, only with dd1, I complained and apparently I wasn't the only one with a problem in her class. I knew she had lunches with her as I make for dd1+2, I wouldn't make for one but not the other. We've never had to pay though. Think she was mixed up with another child on the register, ask them if there was someone near her on the register who always has school lunches, except for that week. Think it is probably unlikely that she actually had two meals.

Suffolkgirl1 Tue 15-Jan-13 17:27:09

Just curiosity - in those schools where the school dinners have to be booked way in advance, what happens if a child turns up without their packed lunch eg they left it at home, in the car, on the school bus?
Presumably they don't let them go hungry.

BooksandaCuppa Tue 15-Jan-13 20:13:49

Suffolkgirl- they would either ring the parent to bring a lunch in or (if a working parent) scrape together a portion from the hot meals which have been ordered by the other children. But since we've only hot dinners in our county for about three years, the children are used to remembering their lunches!

BooksandaCuppa Tue 15-Jan-13 20:16:04

The catering company provide lunches for at least 10 schools over a large radius and deliver them about ten minutes before they're eaten - there's no way this system could work with children just deciding there and then that they do or don't want a hot lunch - how do they know whether to deliver 5 or 30 meals?

SizzleSazz Tue 15-Jan-13 20:23:27

Our meals are cooked on site and dc say at class registration which meal they want and get a coloured band. The list is sent to the kitchen and the requisite meals cooked which they then give the child on production of their corresponding coloured band.

Crucially though, the TA checks the number of lunch boxes on the trolley in the classroom to ensure none of the little ones have got mixed up as to whether they should have said 'red/yellow/green' or packed lunch.

I love the system as it is so flexible. All paid via parentpay.

peppajay Tue 15-Jan-13 21:22:37

Wow. I am astounded at our school and many other primaries around here, there is no hot dinner option unless you are on benefits so most children have a packed lunch!!! I have never heard of paying for school lunches in a primary school only in secondary. Great idea though as the nights my kids have swimming or dancing which results in a late dinner they could have a school lunch!!! I am curious now so going to research other schools in my area to see if they offer hot lunches but never heard of any!!

happynewmind Tue 15-Jan-13 21:47:11

This is why in our school parents have to put a change in writing.

Yfronts Tue 15-Jan-13 22:11:15

Don't pay. DD is their responsibility in school hours and they should have double checked with you. She is only 5

Suffolkgirl1 Wed 16-Jan-13 13:55:15

I hadn't realised how lucky we were to have the flexibility to switch between hot dinners and sandwiches on a daily basis. Having the meals cooked on site obviously allows for this more easily. Ordering in the morning also allows them to switch between the veg and meat option which (when we used to have to pre-order) wasn't an option. My DS is a meat eater but will today I am sure have ordered Mac cheese rather than the Chilli, as it is his favorite.

Babedestiny Mon 21-Jan-13 18:13:47

I think its the school error.My freind had the same problem and went to the school to query and hers was worse..her daughter had eaten more than 3 weeks when she is having packed lunch fr home as well. But the odd thing was it was paid for as well with 3 days outstanding..Firstly, she said i have never asked for school lunch, secondly who has been paying all this while when the parents haven't.Funny thing, the receptionist said well if you haven't paid at all you must pay for all the weeks now...How ridiculous...they didnt accepted that it could be their error...until she had a word with the head...In the end, she got away without paying for anything...
I am glad...coz they made me look so silly saying it was my daughter fault..n now they finally accepted it can be theirs as well...

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now