DC on free school meals being singled out

(88 Posts)
nothingcomestonothing Fri 28-Aug-20 17:54:01

I wasn't sure where to put this. My DCs small, single form entry Primary has been on the very catious side of things re covid (in my opinion). Last week we got an email with arrangements for September, including lunch arrangements, which are stated to be changing due to the need to socially distance in the kitchens.

All of KS1 will get FSM, as all are entitled. The DC in KS2 who are entitled because of low income will get FSM, and the rest of KS2 have to bring packed lunch. The KS2 DC who get FSM will be asked their meal choices at registration each morning.

Now it seems obvious to me that the KS2 who get FSM will be stigmatised by this plan - it will be obvious to the whole class that that their family have a low income, and will lead to teasing or worse. I think the DC this applies to will then decline the FSM so as not to be stigmatised, or their parents will, and potentially some v vulnerable DC will miss out on possibly their only good meal of the day sad In my view, whatever the system is, it shouldn't publicise DCs vulnerabilities like this.

Is anyone else's school doing this? I emailed the head with my concerns, got no reply. For context, DDs secondary school are offering hot meals for nearly 2000 DC from roughly the same size kitchen as the Primary school has which apparently can't make 250 or so hot meals safely. Is there some guidance or practice from other schools which I can highlight to DC's school on how to be super cautious without doing it like this?

OP’s posts: |
MaddeningtheUnhelpful Fri 28-Aug-20 17:59:55

This is literally the way it was in primary and juniour school for me many many moons ago, the free school meal kids would be asked with the register. Honestly can say that the usual opinion was that they were so lucky. I certainly am not from a wealthy family and was always told no, we can't afford it here's your packed punch. My older two DC in KS2 also beg and plead for school meals and it would also be more of an expense for us than a packed lunch is

Decentsalnotime Fri 28-Aug-20 18:02:14

The school do not see it as anything to be embarrassed about.
And nor should you.

Thierryhenryneedisaymore Fri 28-Aug-20 18:06:04

Things are going backward and have noticed some if this happening in other schools. You should contact the head teacher again politely and remind her you have emailed previously and expect a reply (so long as it wasn't a day ago that you emailed - have a chance to reply ) and if he or she cannot reply then ask her to refer you to someone who can by a certain date. This can be managed more sensitively if they think about and you are entitled as a parent to point out an issue such as this. It us a simple thing they can put right. Some people will dismiss this but school life is hard eniugh for some kids. Where they can avoid causing unnecessary issues or worries for them they should.

Thierryhenryneedisaymore Fri 28-Aug-20 18:07:14

Agreee completely that it is not anything to be ashamed of but kids can be cruel. It is naive to think otherwise.

Decentsalnotime Fri 28-Aug-20 18:09:05

I disagree
I don’t think this is a sign that things are “going backwards” but rather that children are less bothered about “class” (more bothered about Instagram, celebs, tiktok etc!).

Seriously - I suspect that this won’t be issue amongst the class.

nothingcomestonothing Fri 28-Aug-20 18:09:43

It's not that I think those DC or their families should be embarrassed, its that I think they will be. I also think it will deter families whose situations have changed due to covid from applying for FSM.

For full disclosure, my DC are not entitled to FSM, so this isn't me being over sensitive about my own circumstances, it's me thinking this is a bad idea as a plan. I just think DC who get extra help at school in any way shouldn't be made different to the general population.

OP’s posts: |


BluebellsGreenbells Fri 28-Aug-20 18:11:38

I don’t see the issue either.

Lots of kids get free school meals. It’s nothing to be ashamed about and your kids shouldn’t be bothered either.

BKCRMP Fri 28-Aug-20 18:17:05

If it bothers you that much could you not do a packed lunch?

Thierryhenryneedisaymore Fri 28-Aug-20 18:17:42

Hopefully you are right. But am guessing the fact the OP is thinking about it suggests she hasn't plucked this from nowhere. I think young kids will not be bothered or notice. But some kids still do tease about clothing, ridiculous things like hair colour, anything that makes someone 'different' or a minority. Why separate kids so obviously on the basis of what their parents earn? No need for it at all.
Even if you are right, why can't they make it less divisive? It would be easy to put right and if they suggest it isn't i would be inclined to challenge that. Unless it is a mammoth task to do things another way then why not. They just haven't thought about it, and OP is entitled to a response.

OverTheRainbow88 Fri 28-Aug-20 18:21:14


I agree with what you are saying. Every year at sports day our school has an an announcement over the microphone “All those who gets free school meals please come and collect them from...”. Do you know how many do? About 20/ 1100 kids!!! It’s terrible, I complain ever year!!!

michelle1504 Fri 28-Aug-20 18:27:10

Maybe you could do a packed lunch? I remember at school having to go over to the queue to collect my free 'dinner ticket' and hand it over as payment and I was always so embarrassed that people knew that I got free meals.

Sally872 Fri 28-Aug-20 18:30:20

Scotland but here all kids get school meals if they want or bring pack lunch, cashless system so completely anonymous.

Only change for covid is we have been asked to top up cards using online system, used to be able to put cash into a machine in dinner hall to top up card.

I don't believe dinner hall cant find covid rules that work.

Morfin Fri 28-Aug-20 18:30:28

I asked my DD what she would think if she knew which kids had free school meals, she said she would think nothing of it, and would be jealous they got cafe. I asked her if she had free school meals would she mind everyone knowing... She said then she'd rather packed lunch.

phonez Fri 28-Aug-20 18:31:04

overtherainbow that is shocking.

Having lunch, sharing a meal is a communal experience. Ofcourse schools should be trying to avoid othering.

If everyone else is packed lunch I think the should provide the fsm pupils with packed lunches too.

bookmum08 Fri 28-Aug-20 18:33:13

Having volunteered at a primary school for several years I can say this - the children do not care. They don't care that some kids get FSM (most probably don't even realise or know what it actually is). They also don't care that some children have extra reading lessons, maybe have a 1 to 1 helper, that some children have hearing aids, some have a insulin pump attached to them, some use a wheelchair, some use Makaton to communicate....and the 1001 other things that can exist. They may ask about but are usually understanding and accepting of whatever the reason is and then they simply do not care.

alexdgr8 Fri 28-Aug-20 18:34:02

those saying it is not an issue, was it never an issue when you were at school, or perhaps you were in an area/type of school where almost no one got FSM.
you seem lacking in empathy or imagination, or just ordinary life experience.
how the other half lives, indeed.

jessstan2 Fri 28-Aug-20 18:36:02

It sounds horrible. In your shoes, I would complain.

However it might be easier to just do a packed lunch.

Jussayingisall Fri 28-Aug-20 18:37:17

We certainly made fun of the free school dinner kids when I was at school, so I agree it should not be broadcast to everyone.

Thisismytimetoshine Fri 28-Aug-20 18:38:36

Do other kids really care that much about someone getting a free lunch?

Thisismytimetoshine Fri 28-Aug-20 18:38:57


We certainly made fun of the free school dinner kids when I was at school, so I agree it should not be broadcast to everyone.

Lovely 🙄

michelle1504 Fri 28-Aug-20 18:39:31

Oh and for those saying kids don't care - that certainly wasn't my experience nor the experience of other kids who received free school meals.

ineedaholidaynow Fri 28-Aug-20 18:40:45

When DS was at Primary school they had lunch vouchers which they had to hand in with the register if they wanted school dinners. I was a parent volunteer and would sometimes be in class when they took the register. It took me sometime to work out that the children who always said that their voucher was in the office were on FSM. The pupils didn't seem to care.

Our local area have been doing food hampers over the summer holidays rather than vouchers for those on FSM. I volunteered to help deliver them, so obviously now know a number of families who are on FSM, no-one seemed bothered.

I think you are making it more of an issue than it is. Also I am assuming with the economy at the moment more children will be claiming FSM than have for some time.

Greysparkles Fri 28-Aug-20 18:41:11

I had this when I was at school. FSM children had a different coloured ticket to trade for their meal. So everyone knew

You can say kids don't care blah blah, but i cared. It was embarrassing and demeaning.

Burplecutter Fri 28-Aug-20 18:42:19

Dd was the only one in her class on FSM during lockdown. Someone wheeled a trolley in and gave her a brown lunch bag and the other kids took their lunch bags out from under their desks. Not one single time did any of the other kids say a word about why she had one in a brown bag and they had their own from home. They just each opened their packed lunch and all compared what they got no matter where it came from.

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in