Cashless school dinners ‘reduce stigma around free meals’ [, 22/3/2011].

School cashless catering schemes could help establishments in the crackdown against bullying, it has been suggested.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that more than 20,000 children in Northern Ireland are missing out on free school lunches because they are scared they will be teased by other kids.

However, an Audit Office report suggests cashless school dinner payment could be one way of overcoming this problem.

Furthermore, the news provider stated that the system has helped to reduce bullying because youngsters no longer have lunch money for others to steal.

The report said: “Cashless systems generally involve the use of electronic cards instead of meal tickets so that pupils in receipt of free school meals are treated in the same way as those paying for their meal.”

This comes after a document from The Senedd’s Children and Young People Committee also highlighted the fact many youngsters are too embarrassed to collect their free meals.

Chairwoman Helen Mary Jones said the Welsh government is being urged to consider a cashless system, the South Wales Argus reported.