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Stopping the stigma of free school meals

25 September 2012

More than a quarter of pupils who are entitled to free school meals are not taking up the offer a hot, nutritious meal than face the stigma of accepting free school meals (FSM) according to a recent study by the Institute for Social and Economic Research.

This feeling is fuelled by the way the FSM system is operated, where a pupil hands over a voucher rather than cash like their peers or where they cannot sit with their friends, they are left feeling segregated and singled out.

A number of schools are already looking at the use of biometric data to implement anonymous payment systems. This type of system would allow all pupils to pay for their meals the same way at school removing any concerns about stigma. Cost permitting, this is an avenue other schools will no doubt explore which could encourage participation in the scheme.

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