Lancashire pilots meal choice for over-fives
Monday 8th December 2003 13:34
Children at a North of England primary school are choosing their lunch before their first lesson, thanks to a computerised cashless system.
Although cashless payment systems operate in nearly 500 secondary schools, they are still rare in primary schools. However, Lancashire County Council began piloting the system two weeks ago at Lostock Hall Community Primary School in Preston.
Each classroom has a computer where pupils aged six and upwards choose their meal from a choice of four before the start of their day. The orders are forwarded to the kitchen's computer.
Margaret Fleming, the council's commercial services projects manager, said the system had cut waste and improved sales. Previously, some of the school's 275 pupils would turn away from the canteen because their choice of meal had run out. Now the kitchen is able to cook to order.
Pupils have a PIN number and can credit their account by putting cash into a machine in the school foyer, or parents can pay by cheque. Cashless payment company Cunninghams installed the system. After pupils have collected their meal, their choice is checked on a screen and their account debited.
Fleming said the system cost about £5,500 to install but predicted that most primary schools would recoup the costs in about two years through increased sales and efficiency. The system provided useful information on children with dietary needs and made planning future menus more effective, she added.