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Lunch over lessons: Report finds almost three quarters of Welsh parents would spend extra funding on school meals

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One of the largest surveys ever conducted on school meal provision in Wales has found that 72% of parents and guardians would spend extra education funding on school meals, while 28% would prefer it be spent on improving other areas of the curriculum.

Produced by Cypad – the market-leading meal and kitchen management platform – the inaugural 2022 Wales School Meals Report draws on data from a survey of 19,477 ParentPay users, the UK’s market leading cashless payments platform.

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Developed in partnership with LACA, the report has found that 80% of Welsh pupils eat a school meal at least once a week, with half having them every day.

The report highlighted clear demand from parents and guardians for greater oversight of what their children are eating.

64% of Welsh primary school parents surveyed stated they wanted the ability to see what school meals their child has eaten in the recent past, while 51% of all parents reported that they would like to have sight of the menu options for each week.

79% and 80% of parents with children in Welsh primary and secondary schools respectively are also in favour of a system that would allow them to pre-select meals ahead of time, view the menu and nutritional content, and see a picture of the meal.

Other findings include:

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The price is right: Despite rising living costs, 69% of primary school and 59% of secondary school parents reported feeling that school meals are priced appropriately, indicating that school caterers are providing meals of good value for money

Hot food: Ensuring their children have a hot lunch is a key driver for most parents in choosing school meals (59% of primary school respondents and 39% of secondary school respondents) while 46% of primary school respondents and 48% of secondary school respondents opt for school meals because it is convenient. Meanwhile, 9% of both primary and secondary school respondents select school lunches for their children because their friends have it

Quality is key: When assessing the quality of school meals, almost 7 in 10 believe that the variety of meals on offer is the key factor. 44% of parents felt that nutritional value was a key contributor to quality, while 16% of parents surveyed claim that sustainability and ethical sourcing was a significant factor when choosing school meal provision

Merica Wilsher at Cypad, part of ParentPay Group said: “Building off the success of the 2022 National School Meals Report, the first ever Cypad and ParentPay Welsh School Meals Report highlights the value of school lunches to parents and children alike.

“Whether it’s a case of ensuring children have a hot meal in the middle of the school day, making life easier for parents by allowing access to school meal pre-ordering, or giving children time to socialise with their peers, it is clear why school lunches are a top priority for so many parents in Wales.

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“Furthermore, it is interesting to note that parents want greater oversight of what their children eat at school, with many taking an interest in the quality and sustainability of food on offer.

“It is clear that parents value communication and transparency from schools and school meal providers around the options available to their children – a trend that we could see develop as interest in health, nutrition and sustainability grows.”

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