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Lunch is a top priority as research shows two-thirds of parents and carers will spend extra public funding on school meals – FE News

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One of the biggest polls ever on school meals has found that if the government increased funding for education, two-thirds of parents, grandparents and carers think it should be spent on school meals, with only 32% in favor spending on improving areas of the curriculum.

The 2022 School Meals Report was produced by Cypad – the market-leading catering and kitchen management platform – and was based on data collected from a survey of 306,354 users of ParentPay – the UK’s leading cashless payment platform. The report, produced in conjunction with LACA, found that of the 68% of respondents who would spend additional funding on school meals, 27% would subsidize school meals for all; 23% would extend the right to free school meals; and 18% would improve food quality.

The report also shows the nationwide popularity of school meals, with 83% of pupils being given a meal every week and half every day. Meat is firmly on the menu, with only 4% of children reporting that they are vegetarian, although 15% of parents would like to see more vegan and meat-free days.

Other findings include:

  • Time to cook?: The vast majority of parents believe that cooking should be part of the curriculum. 89% believe it should be compulsory for children of all ages, while 9% want it taught only to secondary school students. Overall, only 2% of parents do not want cooking to be part of the curriculum.
  • Growth of non-cash payments: 83% of parents reported that they could no longer pay cash for school meals. 77% of elementary school parents and 70% of middle school parents would like to be able to use a system that allows them to choose meals in advance, view the menu and nutritional value, and see a picture of the food
  • Warming effect: 47% of parents choose school meals because they want their children to eat a hot lunch, and 45% because it’s convenient. Meanwhile, 24% choose school lunches for their children because their friends do
  • Variety is the spiciness of food: According to about 44% of parents, a greater variety of food offered would increase attendance at school meals. Meanwhile, another 44% of parents would increase the number of school lunches if they thought the quality of the food was better, and about 38% if it were cheaper
  • Inflationary effect? 69% of parents still think school meal prices are right, while 28% think the price is too high. It is noteworthy that compared to the 2021 report, the number of those who believe that food is evaluated correctly has decreased by 11%.

Mark Brunt, CEO of ParentPay, said: “The report makes it clear how important school meals are for parents and children. The reason why parents choose school meals – because it provides something warm to eat at lunch with friends – may explain why they spend extra public money to provide it. Lunchtime is obviously at the heart of the school day and plays a huge role in developing a sense of community in the school.

“It is interesting to observe the further development of cashless payments. We are now at a stage where only 10% of schools accept cash for lunches. This has real benefits for schools, who no longer face the administrative burden of banking huge sums of physical currency, and for parents, who no longer have to send their children to school with pockets full of coins that might disappear in a candy store. to. At least on the playground, cash is no longer the main thing.”

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