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AIBU to think free school dinners is a waste of money

(136 Posts)
Iwannalaylikethisforever Mon 03-Feb-14 18:45:19

Our primary school newsletter announces from September 2014 all reception children and years 1&2 will be getting free school meals. Everyone else pays usual £2 per day.
Although the government is calling for a ban on packed lunches, our school is not enforcing it.
I think free school lunches for those who need it is brilliant. I loved my free school lunches as a child.
But, so many parents are angry about it and insisting their child is too fussy to eat whats on offer at school, surely it's just a waste of tax payers money. Further more I think it's unreasonable to assume after year 2 parents and children won't benefit from trying to introduce children to a broader array of foods than they get elsewhere.

lougle Mon 03-Feb-14 18:49:45

It's not a waste of money. The criteria for FSM is ridiculously narrow and misses a great many children who are deprived but their parents are not in receipt of a qualifying benefit. Especially in cases where a lone parent receives maintenance, they can actually be better off than a parent who does not get IS/JSA. Even one penny of Working Tax Credit = No FSM.

Nobody is forcing anyone to take it up. It's just being made available.

Mintyy Mon 03-Feb-14 18:52:11

Yabu. My ds is currently enjoying free school meals and our family income is probably somewhere in the top 5%. We were perfectly happy to pay until they suddenly became free confused. Absolute waste of money.

Mintyy Mon 03-Feb-14 18:52:35

Sorry, obvs meant yaNbu!

NonnoMum Mon 03-Feb-14 18:54:45

I think some posters are confusing Free School Meals for those who currently qualify, and Free School Meals for ALL in KS1 from next September.

I think it's great but there are loads of fussy little munchkins who would rather have a spam sandwich and a packet of crisps.

PumpkinPie2013 Mon 03-Feb-14 18:55:04

I don't think it's a waste of money. Many children who don't currently qualify for FSM but who are deprived will benefit greatly as will their parents who won't have to worry about paying for school meals or providing a packed lunch which meets the school policy.

If people don't want to have the meals they don't have to.

Iwannalaylikethisforever Mon 03-Feb-14 19:07:00

Minty. That's exactly my point.
What I mean is it's a waste of money to give fsm to all of ks1 when some people can clearly afford to pay for them.
Lougle - I didn't realise the criteria for fsm generally was narrow, so obviously it's good those families will benefit providing the dc are ks1.
I suppose it seems stupid to cap cb and then give fsm it makes no sense to me.

Hoppinggreen Mon 03-Feb-14 19:13:35

I don't need or want free school meals for my son.
I am concerned that the quality will drop.
Also, the cost will be huge - it's not just providing the food itself, many schools don't have the facilities to produce enough meals ( assuming the uptake of school dinners will be higher once they are free) so there will need to be investment.
It's a bit of a gimmicky attempt at winning votes I think.

WilsonFrickett Mon 03-Feb-14 19:15:46

I think it's a gimmick too Hopping and the people who are genuinely in need of them won't stop being in genuine need of them the day their children go into year 3. I'd rather see the criteria widened and then be free all the way through school.

FrumiousBandersnatch Mon 03-Feb-14 19:16:35

It would be nice to think that increased take-up of FSM might lead to greater economies of scale and therefore a higher standard of food for the same cost. Sadly, I fear that this may not be the outcome.

Joysmum Mon 03-Feb-14 19:18:12

I quite agree, it should only be for those in need.

I was rather pissed off initially when I found out we'd be losing our child benefit, since then I realised it's only right as we didn't need it.

breatheslowly Mon 03-Feb-14 19:18:55

YANBU - my DD will get free meals when she starts school. We have just lost some of our child benefit, but the free school meals will be worth more than we are losing. I don't dispute that there will be plenty of people who will benefit and it will make a significant difference to, but for us it really doesn't make sense, we don't need it. When DD starts school, we will have much lower child care costs too, so this is lowering costs at a time when we will feel much better off anyway.

I'm also not clear how they are going to work out who is eligible for pupil premium if there is no requirement to apply for FSM.

WingsontheWind Mon 03-Feb-14 19:19:38

School are not being given any extra money for this... The money is taken from elsewhere in order to fund the initiative. The public is just not told this...

Retropear Mon 03-Feb-14 19:20:18


If you have children you budget to feed them.

Really don't get why other benefits are taken away and replaced by giving a benefit to the wealthy and those who don't need it.

School dinners are also often pretty shite,rarely what they're advertised to be and tiny portions which invariably run out.

Fairenuff Mon 03-Feb-14 19:28:06

Although the government is calling for a ban on packed lunches, our school is not enforcing it.

No, the government have changed this as it became apparent that many schools would not be able to facilitate hot meals.

Now the government want all foundation and KS1 children to have a free packed lunch. I don't think bringing your own will be option unless there are specific dietary needs which cannot be accommodated in the fsm (which is unlikely).

So children will eat what they are given. There will be no crisps or chocolate bars.

Kaekae Mon 03-Feb-14 19:28:51

I don't get it really, my child benefit was taken away but I will qualify for free school meals for one of my children! I don't think it should be free for all, just those who need it. My children have a packed lunch, they always came home starving when they had school meals because there was never enough to go round and they got the dregs of what was left. Therefore, I will not be taking up the offer of free school meals.

SuburbanRhonda Mon 03-Feb-14 19:29:24

Good point about identifying children eligible for Pupil Premium, breathe.

Probably parents will have to provide detailed information about their income to work out who's eligible. And plenty will understandably not want to do that, will they?

Retropear Mon 03-Feb-14 19:34:44

Oh for goodness sake most kids don't have crisps and choc and eat what they're given.

I've seen school packed lunches and they're shite,as shite as the carb heavy,sugary school dinners and a lot less healthy than many packed lunches however fancy they big up the menu.

Guess what some of us still like to parent,choose what our kids eat and do a pretty good job doing it.The Tories like to make out we're all utterly incapable and our kids need to be saved by being in school for hours as we're all just too incapable but thankfully the maj in reality are pretty good at this parenting and feeding lark.

HedgeHogGroup Mon 03-Feb-14 19:35:00

The PP info will be provided by the Benefit Agency from September (I'm a HT & have had this confirmed by the LA).
My concern is that some children come to school hungry, we do our most important lessons in the morning, therefore it seems logical to give ALL children a nutritious breakfast rather than make them wait until lunchtime.
We will be introducing a packed lunch ban over the next 4 years. As classes leave KS1, we'll be telling them they must continue on school dinners... if you saw some of the crap in their packed lunches you'd understand why!

Fairenuff Mon 03-Feb-14 19:37:14

I didn't make the rules Retro I'm just saying what the latest news is.

lougle Mon 03-Feb-14 19:38:08

It won't be any harder to identify those children, I don't think.

The current criteria for free school meals, nationally are:

Income Support
Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
Universal Credit

To apply for FSM, you have to provide evidence of one of the above. To get the EVER6FSM pupil premium, the school has to show eligibility for FSM.

Taking away that requirement for FSM, simply means saying 'You are entitled to pupil premium if.... and using the same criteria.

Retropear Mon 03-Feb-14 19:39:20

Yes I've seen crap packed lunches as a teacher,loads of crap school dinners and an awful lot of good,fine and excellent packed lunches.

An expensive sledgehammer to crack a nut- pretty much like the ridiculous fines for term time holidays.

ihategeorgeosborne Mon 03-Feb-14 19:41:03

I don't like the idea of enforcing a ban on packed lunches. I have 2 dc at KS2 and they both take packed lunches. Firstly, it's cheaper and secondly, I know they've eaten it, because they bring home the remains. DD1 hated school dinners and I never knew what she'd eaten. Ds starts school in 2015 and will be eligible for this free school meal. I'll give him the option if he wants it, but if I'm making sandwiches for two, I might as well make them for three. Also, as others have said, can not understand why they've removed my CB and are now offering me free school meals.

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Mon 03-Feb-14 19:43:33

I love the idea of healthy nutritious school dinners freshly cooked...

But in reality I worry that it will be low fat tightw and supermarket donuts as it was when I let my daughter try them. Our packed lunches are healthier but I'm probably lazy enough to go for dinners...

dreamingofsun Mon 03-Feb-14 19:44:36

i would like me children to be taught properly at school. until they can sort that out i don't think they should spend money or time on sorting other things out. this looks like a cheap (though its not actually that cheap) gimick.

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