'Stigma' of taking up free lunches

30th June 2000 at 01:00
SUNDERLAND has the highest proportion of children eligible for free school meals in the country but the lowest take-up.

This fact has been put down to a mix of northern pride, where families refuse to accept "hand outs", poor dining facilities and an administration system which does nothing to minimise the 'stigma' of signing up.

Nearly 30 per cent of primary and secondary pupils are entitled, compared to the national average of about 17 per cent. In secondaries just 43 per cent of those eligible took avantage, compared to the national average of nearly 80 per cent. The authority has introduced improvements to dining areas, helped by contributions from catering contractors. At Hetton school, a re-vamped McDonalds-style dining room has increased meal uptake by 50 per cent.

The city hopes to take part in research by the Child Poverty Action Group into the causes of low take-up. The charity is campaigning for an extension of free school meals to all children from homes receiving family tax credit.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today