From September 2014 providing free meals to disadvantaged students who are 16 and under was extended to disadvantaged students following FE courses at FE funded institutions. Funding agreements have been amended to place a legal duty on institutions to comply with this requirement. Funding at a rate equivalent to £2.41 per student, per meal taken, would be paid to funded institutions.
Queen Mary’s College in Basingstoke recognised they needed a robust and easy to use solution to record free meals served to entitled students. The college had tried a voucher system but found this insecure, difficult to report on and had noticed some duplications.
Initially the college were only seeking a solution to handle free meal management more effectively. Because of discussions with MonitorIT the college realised they could extend the use of their student ID cards to improve their existing cashless catering, streamline free meal management as well as integrate with solutions they already had, such as print management and access control systems. Students would use only one ID card for catering, printing or entering the college buildings. Additionally, top-up kiosks already in place, that students currently used to top up their print accounts, could be used to top-up their catering accounts as well. Taking this approach would give the college a simple integrated system that protected and enhanced their existing investments.
Using Monitor Retail has overcome the problems encountered with the voucher system and has ensured free meal recipients are discretely identified at the iPOS tills, and as all students use their ID card to pay for meals, any possible stigma associated with receiving free meals has been removed. Service times in the canteen are significantly quicker as cash usage has been minimised. Using Monitor Retail’s reporting tools gives scheduled weekly reports that deliver accurate information on free meal quota uptake and meals served.
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