Parents are demanding the choice of paying for their children's school meals online to stop them either handing dinner money to bullies or spending it on sweets and take-aways in shops.
Up to half the money handed over to pupils for dinners never finds its way into school, caterers say. A poll of more than 10,000 parents, published today, suggests that 94 per cent would prefer to pay online. The study by the Local Authority Caterers Association, to coincide with National School Meals week, also showed that 15 per cent of pupils entitled to free school meals did not take them.
Sharon Hodgson, the Shadow Children and Families Minister, said ways had to be found to remove the "stigma many still associate" with free school meals.