Cost of living crisis: 'Embarrassed' students at Hereford school could go hungry

Hereford Academy, in Marlbrook Road, says it can't keep giving students food for free
Hereford Academy, in Marlbrook Road, says it can't keep giving students food for free

A HEREFORD secondary school says it understands some families could be struggling to feed their children, but it cannot pick up the bill.

Hereford Academy said it had seen a rise in children not having money to pay for food at school, but it "simply cannot afford to allow students to have food without paying for it".

And now, the school will not be giving pupils free food and children could "feel embarrassed".

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Judith Morris, head of finance and operations at the Marlbrook Road school, said more students had been heading to the canteen to buy food at break and lunchtime only to find that there was no money on their Wisepay account, a cashless system used by the school.

She said this situation sometimes seems to be because the funds had only just been paid and had not yet registered on the account, and sometimes it was because there were no funds added.

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The school, with around 569 pupils aged between 11 and 16 years old, also said it had seen an increase recently in students asking it to let them have food at morning break and take it off their free school meal allowance for that day’s lunch.

But Ms Morris said that while she did not want to see students go hungry, the free school meal allowance was granted for a student to access a free lunch meal deal, and from now on would not be able to be used at break times.

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"While we understand that the current cost of living crisis is causing difficulties for many families you will appreciate that we simply cannot afford to allow students to have food without paying for it," a letter to parents said.

"We do not want the children to feel embarrassed when we have to refuse them, and therefore ask that you please make sure that your child’s Wisepay account is credited early in the morning, or preferably the night before, so that the money registers on their account in good time for morning break or lunch."

In the letter to parents, it also outlined the criteria to be eligible for free school meals and support for parents struggling with debt.

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