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Free school dinners, tell me how your school is organising this please.

(21 Posts)
Kithulu Tue 08-Jul-14 19:43:59

Free school dinners for all ks1 children is starting next year, and we are still discussing how to organise this at register time etc. Ours is a large primary school so the implications of a new system are a bit of a nightmare. All suggestions welcome! grin

toomuchicecream Tue 08-Jul-14 20:52:41

For the last 3 or so years we've had hot meals delivered from a hub kitchen. The PTA funded the necessary kitchen improvements at the time. We've got less than 100 pupils though, so it's not a problem getting all the hot dinners (approx 2/3 of the school) through in time.

Our problem is going to be that the cost of the meal from the hub kitchen plus till rental plus the extra midday supervisor (with health & hygiene training) to serve the hot meals and then clear away afterwards is 50p per meal per child per day less than we will receive from the Government. That's a lot of money for a small school to have to take out of their budget for teaching and learning...

NormaStanleyFletcher Tue 08-Jul-14 20:57:44

DDsDDs school are struggling. They only have a tiny kitchen and a 're a listed site so no new building. It is packedlunch only at the moment.

smellyfishead Tue 08-Jul-14 21:04:14

cant really believe this hair brain idea is still going ahead! hmm yet another idea put forward by bigwigs who have no idea about the daily running and organisation of a school.
toomuch- are you saying the per child meal budget will be 50p less than it is now? that's shocking!

toomuchicecream Wed 09-Jul-14 07:05:22

We will be paid 50p per meal less than the parents currently pay for the same meal. That's 50p less than it will cost us to provide it. Parents have been offered the opportunity to make a voluntary contribution to cover the shortfall. However, if they don't (and they are perfectly entitled not to), then that money will have to come from elsewhere in the school budget ie teaching and learning.

JodieGarberJacob Wed 09-Jul-14 07:16:42

We are not sure of the take up yet but being an infant only school we face the possibility of double the current amount of meals to get through in an hour. Judging by how long it takes us to get everyone served when we have our Christmas lunch some stragglers will still be eating at home time grin

JodieGarberJacob Wed 09-Jul-14 07:20:43

Register time will stay exactly the same with the children telling us their choice of A, B or C dinner or packed lunch. The office will be delighted not to have to process and chase up payments so from a school point of view it seems easier. Not so the catering company - our cook has already left!

dilbertina Wed 09-Jul-14 13:42:50

Toomuchicecream, since yours is a small school you will get at least £3000 this year to help implement (or indeed temporarily subsidise) I know it doesn't solve the problem in the long run but at least gives your school a breathing space. Here's the link explaining:

This one off grant applies to schools with less than 150 pupils only - I do feel sorry for larger schools where potentially the logistics are actually much harder to deal with.

toomuchicecream Wed 09-Jul-14 19:12:02

Thanks dilbertina - will check HT is aware of that.

MrsMot Wed 09-Jul-14 20:57:23

No kitchen so free packed lunches only.

dilbertina Thu 10-Jul-14 00:04:11

Toomuchicecream you might also be sensible to encourage a high take-up from KS1 children on October census day as my understanding is that this is what your £2.30/child payment will be based on for the rest of the year, so you do not want a below average take-up that day...maybe a theme day once a term which involves themed lunch might be a great idea and it might fit in nicely in October at some point as the autumn term event... although frankly in a small school it should be fairly easy to capitalise on this and encourage take-up of FSM in KS1 at crucial points in particular, and indeed generally for the childrens' benefit... Good Luck!

Beautifullymixed Sun 13-Jul-14 00:21:44

Our school (am a TA) has had free school meals for all pupils since September. We already had a high proportion who ate school dinners though.
The school were able to have a new kitchen built and we have a lovely French chef whose meals are awesome!

It's very chaotic though, with three twenty minute settings. Ks1 first ,20 minutes later it's the next lot. We have to keep them moving,be punctual with the lining up in and out of the hall,but it seems to work.

Stragglers who haven't finished go to the back table to carry on eating.

We even have music on if they're good and all the lunch staff have been known to have a boogie!


Beautifullymixed Sun 13-Jul-14 00:28:31


I think this is a great idea. All children at our school are entitled to a lovely lunch and sometimes sandwiches are offered.


This also saves me £12 x 2 boys a week. That's a substantial saving for me as a single parent.
And one I'm grateful for.

I'm sure I'm not the only one.

JennyWren Sun 13-Jul-14 00:30:01

Will all schools be given £2.30 per EYFS/KS1 child who takes up the meals? As parents we only pay £2.00 per meal at the moment, so on that basis the school would be making a profit that could be put toward the school budget... If the meals supplier don't immediately increase their prices!

Kithulu Wed 16-Jul-14 22:49:07

We are worried about just how much longer registration is going to take when we are going through every childs lunch choices.....

Beautifullymixed Wed 16-Jul-14 23:02:02

In our school the children usually stick to one choice, there is not regular changes ie. the same children have packed lunch every day.

When it was payment for lunch,you were only allowed to change each term, so there was never any daily changes. Or children who had packed lunch for half the week and dinners the rest etc. Far too much faff.
The lunch register takes seconds.

dilbertina Sun 20-Jul-14 09:40:24

Our supplier is increasing prices to £2.30...

Beautifullymixed Sun 20-Jul-14 09:46:14

That's really bad to hear that prices go up for some to pay for the 'free' meals.

At first we had free meals only for ks1, but the other children still paid £2.

There is a thread about this in chat if anyone's interested.

zummurzet Sun 20-Jul-14 12:44:23

It's not going to make much difference to us as 85% are on FSMs already, and the meals are cooked on site by our fab kitchen manager and 2 staff.

And of the 25% not on school meals about 10% have school meals anyway. The ones who have packed lunch have generally said they'll continue this regardless as their kids won't eat a school meal....

Registration is fairly quick and easy - we use Sims. I log onto Sims, quickly go through the menu options, run down kids names and they say what they want, incl packed lunch, and I click on the option for each child. That's it. I then whizz through the actual register bit, inputting the marks without calling names a second time as I know who is there. Takes about 3 mins.

The only real issue is the time it takes to get them all through the Hall. Rec go up at 11.45, Y1 at 12 and Y2 at 12.15 (2 form entry).
All of KS2 then go out into the playground at 12.30, and get called in y3/4 then 5/6 until 1.20 when afternoon register starts. It's a rush. I feel KS1 miss out on teaching time and have a very long lunch break, and KS2 get a v short time to play before or after they've eaten. But it's been like that for a few years so I don't think much will change come September.

ipadquietly Mon 21-Jul-14 17:32:12

We don't yet know who is supplying them; how they'll be supplied; what will be supplied or even when they'll be supplied! We don't know how parents will order or whether we will need to buy plates and cutlery... our children will start in September with free sandwiches!

What a fiasco.

Beautifullymixed Mon 21-Jul-14 18:36:14

Wow ipad what a muddle.
Ours seems so long ago now,but changes were made.
The plastic trays were replaced by ceramic plates and bowls, & clearing up stations were repositioned.

Before the free meals we had about 85% eating a school lunch, now it's about 95%. So not much of a change. We already had staff employed by a catering company, not the school. That includes the cook. The food was always good quality, with a salad station, fresh sandwiches and fresh fruit available daily.

Hope it all works out at everyone else's school too.

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